One size does not fit all for COVID rules
The recent statewide two-week freeze on certain gatherings and business operations is the latest example, in a long line of them throughout Oregon history, that one size does not fit all. With COVID case totals climbing higher and higher and the risk of overwhelming hospital capacity increasing, Gov. Kate Brown imposed a two-week pause to slow down the spread of the coronavirus and allow numbers to decline.
The idea itself was not necessarily a bad one except Brown made it a statewide freeze, lumping counties with relatively few cases into the same bunch as ones in the Portland Metro area and other highly populated areas where case numbers were growing by as much as 350 per day.
The move was similar to covering an entire body in bandages to stop the bleeding in a few select spots. It would likely work, but it's complete overkill.
Not surprisingly, the freeze was met with quite a bit of resistance and criticism. Restaurant organizations banded together to file a lawsuit, numerous legislators penned a letter urging Brown to reconsider the freeze, and locally, Crook County Judge Seth Crawford and County Sheriff John Gautney were openly critical of the decision.
The two-week pause adversely impacted many local businesses that either had to dramatically alter their operations or close them entirely. Several annual holiday events that kick off on Thanksgiving weekend were negatively impacted as well. The lighted Christmas parade was postponed until further notice while the Christmas in the Pines drive-thru light display and the Grimes Christmas Scene were forced to delay opening for at least a week.
Crook County residents and those who live in other rural communities have long complained about how the needs or concerns of a few population centers in the Willamette Valley have ultimately dictated how laws will be written for the entire state. They will probably tell you without hesitation that one size does not fit all. And when it comes to slowing COVID spread, one size does not fit all either.
Fortunately, late last week, the governor announced a new county-by-county approach to COVID guidelines. It isn't perfect and people won't agree with every aspect of it, but at least future limitations will be based upon how a particular county is performing. If Multnomah, Washington or Clackamas counties are experiencing high case totals, it will not affect the rules in Crook County the way it did for the past couple weeks.
This approach at least opens the door to businesses reopening and makes it possible for Crook County's traditional holiday events to move forward. And it gives the county a pathway to be given more leniency if case numbers decline.
This new set of county-by-county rules may not be a perfect fit, but it fits a lot better.
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