(The following article is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of iFIBER ONE News, iFIBER Communications, or it’s staff)
When our state moved into Phase 2 of Governor Inslee’s latest iteration of a reopening plan, it signaled a well-deserved step forward for our region. Following guidelines under the leadership of local health districts and elected officials, we worked together to reduce our hospitalization rates, prevent the spread of the virus, and lower the number of cases in our regions. We earned our way into Phase 2.
Quite reasonably, members of our community including small business owners and local leaders are now asking: What’s next? What is Phase 3? What are the next steps we can take to further reopen our local economies and get people back to work.
Unfortunately, Governor Inslee refuses to give us any answers.
When a reporter dared to ask the Governor to provide Washingtonians specifics about the public engagement process for developing the parameters of Phase 3, the Governor condescendingly snapped back that he had already provided the specifics and went on to sarcastically describe his morning routine of making calls to his advisors before eating his morning piece of toast – so what more specifics could we the people possibly want?
The people of our state – including the reporters simply trying to provide the public with important information – deserve better.
I have said all along that these decisions directly impacting Washingtonians’ lives should be made at the local level. This has been further demonstrated by the leadership I have witnessed by local health districts, chambers of commerce, city and county officials, and other community leaders. When there was a discrepancy in figures reported in a county in the South Central region, it was local leaders who came together to ensure the mistake was corrected so the region was able to move forward into Phase 2 with the rest of the state.
I have heard firsthand accounts from all counties in our district throughout the pandemic. Phase 2 is a good step forward, but they are becoming increasingly frustrated with the Governor’s lack of direction.
In March of last year, we were told that we needed two weeks to flatten the curve of COVID-19 and stop the spread of the virus. Two weeks has turned into a year.
We stayed home, we missed holidays, and we cancelled our travel plans. Our businesses shut their doors or dramatically reduced their capacity. Hospitals cut off essential services in order to keep beds open. Our grocery stores saw dangerously low levels of supplies while our agriculture workers continued to ensure we had food to put on our tables. Event spaces and venues closed, hotel guest lists became barren, and gyms and movie theaters remained empty. Our students stayed home, and teachers transitioned their classrooms online. While some were able to work from home, far too many of our neighbors lost their jobs or were forced to provide for their families on reduced hours.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Governor’s office released a 4-phase reopening plan that was “based on science.” That plan has been replaced by another plan, which was replaced by another plan… which has now been changed again. The Governor is leaving the individuals, families, and businesses who depend on a safe and swift reopening in the lurch.
Without a clear, concrete plan to move forward, our communities will lose hope.
We all want to defeat this virus, return to a sense of normalcy, and do our part to ensure our district doesn’t suffer from further economic devastation. But in order to do that, we need real leadership – and Governor Inslee is failing to deliver.