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Former health officer for Clackamas County: Chair-elect's statement 'needs vigorous pushback'

Health care officials are speaking out after a Clackamas County politician publicly rebuked Gov. Kate Brown's orders to forgo large holiday gatherings.

Tootie Smith, the incoming chair of the Clackamas County Commission, responded to Brown's mandated two-week freeze on social gatherings on Facebook, saying she will "celebrate Thanksgiving with as many family and friends as I can find."

Smith doubled down on her message during an interview with KOIN 6 News' AM Extra.

"We are responsible and intelligent, we do not need to be treated like children in our own homes," Smith said. "The government has no right to invade the privacy of people in their own homes."

Dr. Paul LewisBut a former tri-county health officer says Smith's message is irresponsible.

"This has launched some controversy and it needs vigorous pushback from those of us who have devoted our lives and careers to caring for others. We want to do our work and we need your help to do it," said Dr. Paul Lewis.

Lewis, who is the former health officer for Clackamas County and now works in private practice, said the concern is that people will get together and someone who is an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 will spread the disease to numerous households.

"I've been in touch with a number of physician leaders today and people are universally aghast at the idea that people would promote something so dangerous," he said. "Our hospitals are crowded and getting more crowded now."


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