November 16, 2020 -- Kittitas County
The Kittitas County Board of Commissioners is threatening legal action against Governor Inslee.
The commissioners say they intend to potentially move forward with legal action once the Kittitas County Prosecutor’s Office has the opportunity to collect local health data and present potential options.
According to the board, the new COVID-19 restrictions fail to recognize local health authorities' role to determine the appropriate response and the highly variable rates of COVID-19 throughout the state.
Chairman Brett Wachsmith says Kittitas County has worked hard to keep the virus at a low rate.
He says the health department has partnered with local schools, businesses, cities, and Central Washington University to respond quickly to outbreaks and keep infection isolated to avoid community spread.
I am extremely disappointed in the actions taken by the state that ignore the work that has been accomplished," says Wachsmith.
To make a sweeping decision at the state level ignores the local response measures we have in place as well as the secondary impacts COVID-19 has placed on our residents.
Commissioner Cory Wright said:
"It took some time, but through this our health department, public health officer, and this Board came to an understanding that our most critical issues were protecting public health while keeping schools and businesses open.
These new orders issued by the governor only set back the collective local work we have done and firmly demonstrate that locally-controlled response is the best response."
Commissioners also questioned the effectiveness of limiting and closing businesses that have not been identified as a source of community spread.
Vice Chairman Laura Osiadacz also said,
"We have not seen the local hospital impacts of COVID-19 that have been predicted, but we have certainly seen the effects of these orders and their negative impact on the collective mental health of our population."
Also, the commissioners decided to invest nearly $2 million of the remaining CARES Act funds to support affected local employers and schools just after the new COVID-19 restrictions were announced.
“We still have to approve a final proposal, but we are committed to getting money to those areas that have been most affected," said Wachsmith. "By putting federal money to work in the most direct way possible, we can lessen the overall impact of COVID on local families."
Wachsmith says the board is making sure paychecks continue arriving, and keeping kids in school during this time is the best way to minimize the secondary effects of COVID.
The board says it is investing approximately $1.75 million of remaining federal funds in supplementary funding.