Opinion: ‘The governor’s decisions have hurt too many in our community’

Vancouver resident Matt Jeffries shares his thoughts on the need to reopen Clark County.

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in this report are those of the author alone and do not reflect the editorial position of ClarkCountyToday.com

Matt Jeffries
Matt Jeffries
Vancouver

Our community needs to look to ourselves, not the governor, for when we reopen. As seen in many parts of the country, local officials and law enforcement have put the needs of their community above misguided orders from a career politician. We need that here. 

Clark County is not the same as King County. It is certainly not the same as King County as it applies to this virus. Since the virus arrived, we have suffered heartbreaking deaths in Clark County. Almost all over 70 years of age, the majority over 80 years of age. Tragically the virus attacks the most vulnerable in our community and we must use strong precautions to ensure their safety. 

Fortunately, the virus has avoided the majority of our county, our children and those under 60 years of age. We have to balance these facts as we return to normal. The governor has laid out an arbitrary plan that seems to pick essential and non-essential based on his personal whim, not science or facts. Three hundred people in a grocery or box store is safe, three people in a small business is not? Two hundred in a law office is safe, 20 in a place of worship is not? 

People saying their neighbors do not need to go to church because of the risk, yet they drive to stores weekly exposing themselves far more than those they criticize. The governor’s actions put neighbor against neighbor and our focus is misdirected. It is not about the building or the activity, it is about using reasonable precautions throughout our community. We all agree food, shelter and clothing jobs are essential. So are all jobs to sustain families.

Almost any business can enact precautions that the “essential” businesses currently have. If you pick up food from a restaurant, you are exposed to the same risk as eating at one if precautions and reasonable distancing guidelines are used. A salon can be just as safe as a law office. A small store just as safe as a box store. 

The choices Gov. Inslee has made are hurting our younger generations, the group least impacted by the virus. Young families living paycheck to paycheck, those who are unemployed. Children being isolated for the first time, who desperately need the stability of school for food and safety. When schools reopen in the fall, will the children be better or worse, mentally and health wise, from this isolation? 

Have we transferred the risk from one age group to another when we can protect both with reasonable precautions and thoughtfulness? A third of our workforce is unemployed due to the virus, many living in apartments or other rentals. Some receive benefits, others are not. Rent protections end this month and evictions will begin as the owners of the property must make loan payments or risk foreclosure. The governor will not feel their pain, their fear nor have to explain to their children why they lost their home. 

Our community needs to reopen now for these families to prosper and we are able and smart enough to do this safely. The governor’s decisions have hurt too many in our community and the extended delay in reopening will hurt many more. We need local officials and law enforcement to do what is right for Clark County now. Reopening with reasonable precautions for the individual circumstance, not trying to determine which individuals, businesses, activities or locations are safer than another. A virus does not choose that way, neither should we.

Matt Jeffries
Vancouver

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