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Sheriff and undersheriff should set a better physical distancing example for us

Sheriff, undersheriff should set better physical distancing example

Re: the photograph of Mr. Jim Kucera, Sheriff John Gautney, and Undersheriff James Savage in the May 19 issue of the Central Oregonian:

I have always felt tremendous respect and gratitude to Sheriff John Gautney, but it's hard to express my shock and disappointment that he would put the health of Mr. Kucera — a man already on oxygen, as the photo shows —- at further risk by standing inches away from him, with no trace of a facial mask in sight.

To quote from the home page of our own Crook County Health Department:

"Many people can be carriers of COVID-19 enabling them to pass the virus on to others without realizing it. Wearing a cloth face mask when you leave the house can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is NOT a replacement for physical distancing. Physical distancing should still be practiced while wearing a mask." The use of boldface type, underlining, and all-caps are directly from the website. That's how strong this message was!

I am further disappointed that the Central Oregonian would publicize this irresponsible behavior by printing the entire photograph ("Gee, if our sheriff thinks it's okay, why shouldn't we?"). The CO could easily have printed a nice, large picture of Mr. Kucera, leaving out the others — and avoided sending a very dangerous message.

In just three months, more than 100,000 people have died from COVID-19. That is the entire population of Prineville once, twice... more than 10 times over! That's 100,000 families losing a loved one, unable to be with them as they died, facing terrible grief. And all when, by wearing a simple mask and keeping their distance, someone might not have transmitted the virus that killed them.

"Protect and serve." Why weren't these public servants, these very good men, doing all they could to protect the lives in Crook County?

Kate Van Voorhees


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