Dear Governor Brown,
I am writing you today because I was dismayed by the letter sent to you by Sheriff Brian Pixley on August 19th. Please know that, despite the claims in the letter, it does not represent the views of the residents of Columbia County as a whole. Many of us — and certainly I, personally — are grateful for your efforts to protect our community. We recognize the incredibly difficult job you’ve been given, and while nobody is happy about the need for ongoing restrictions, we thank you for acting with integrity in making the difficult choices.
Together, our public health professionals, researchers, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals have given us the tools we need to beat this pandemic. We have vaccines which are highly effective, including against the Delta variant, and remarkably safe. We know that, unfortunately, the vaccines alone are not enough against this more contagious variant, but that combined with wearing a mask and simple limits on gatherings, we can end this threat. But doing so relies on everyone doing their part. That includes all of us, individually, doing what we can; it also includes our elected officials and public servants helping to protect us, especially those in our community who’re unable to protect themselves.
While we agree the Sheriff is responsible for protecting our community in various ways, his letter felt like an abdication of that responsibility. Protecting our community must include helping to protect us from a pandemic which has taken the lives of 673,637 Americans, 3,569 Oregonians, and 37 residents of our county — a number which includes a member of my family — and subjected many more to grave, often ongoing, illness.
Since the Sheriff’s letter, we all hoped he’d reconsider his professional and moral obligations, as well as the needs of our county. While I believe he owes our community an explanation, it is encouraging to see that he has, at least, softened his position and he and his staff have been helping to enforce the mask mandate, at least in limited cases. We encourage Sheriff Pixley to talk with our excellent County Public Health Department or the many dedicated physicians who work here to better understand the risks we face and how best to manage them.
We’re grateful that we have competent and thoughtful leadership at the state level, working to protect us all; we know that not every state has that advantage, and results speak for themselves. But we know that we’re by no means out of the woods. Beating this pandemic, and the Delta variant in particular, depends on everyone doing their civic duty to help protect their family, their neighbors, and their community by getting vaccinated if they’re able and wearing masks when appropriate.
Governor, our thanks go out to you, the folks at Oregon Health Authority, and the many others who continue to work so hard to get us through this as quickly as possible.
Chair, Columbia County Democrats Central Committee