This editorial was published by the Tri-City Herald of Kennewick.
Suing Gov. Jay Inslee over his stay-home order is an ineffective and dangerous strategy.
So far, three lawsuits have been filed against the governor in an attempt to force him to reopen the state’s economy — including a suit led by Franklin County Commissioner Clint Didier and gubernatorial candidate Tim Eyman.
Didier appears to be more upset with Inslee than with recent data showing that Franklin County now has the second highest coronavirus infection rate in the state. Eyman appears to be using the outbreak to whip up unrest and gain support for his campaign.
Their lawsuit, like the others, is accompanied by vocal, political posturing that promotes a frightening lack of sensitivity for our most vulnerable residents.
The Seattle Times reported that at last Friday’s news conference in front of the federal courthouse in Tacoma, Didier said, “We can take care of this virus by letting people catch it.”
Dismissing the seriousness of the coronavirus is irresponsible, and demonstrates an unbelievable ignorance of the disease.
We want to remind Didier that just across the Franklin County border is the Tyson Foods beef plant where three workers have died from COVID-19. That outbreak alone has accounted for nearly 18 percent of the positive COVID-19 tests in the Tri-Cities area.
The coronavirus spread throughout the facility, eventually forcing it to shut down for nearly two weeks so workers could be tested and the plant scrubbed clean and more safety barriers installed.
The disease is in the community, and as long as people are out and about it will spread. How would Didier feel if one of his family members ended up in the hospital with COVID-19, struggling to breathe? Would he still think allowing people to catch the disease the best approach to handling this deadly outbreak?
To be fair, we don’t believe Didier is heartless.
We understand he is frustrated because he sees business owners struggling and the county economy tanking, and he wants desperately to fix the situation. We also understand there are hundreds of people who support his effort to sue the governor.
The GoFundMe account set up to hire the lawyer raised more than $40,000, and judging by the online comments, people are clearly upset with the shutdown.
We have urged the governor to consider what his stay-home strategy is doing to people’s livelihoods, and we have asked him to pay more attention to those in economic turmoil.
Suing the governor, however, is not going to make Inslee change course.
Those who want to challenge his plan would be better off working with him, instead of against. Home builders succeeded in getting Inslee to allow more residential and commercial construction, and anglers succeeded in getting him to open up fishing.
The Pasco Chamber of Commerce wrote an excellent letter to Inslee asking for guidance on how businesses can begin to reopen, urging him to act quickly so people can start earning an income again. Many shops and restaurants are on the brink of closing forever if they can’t open soon.
Acknowledging the seriousness of the coronavirus while requesting a relief from restrictions is the better way to approach Inslee.
On the day Didier, Eyman and other Tri-Citians filed the lawsuit in Tacoma, the focus was on how the governor has trampled on constitutional rights and is overreaching his authority
As it happened, it was the same day Inslee finally shared a detailed plan for reopening the state’s economy. While the pacing is slower than many would like, Inslee at least has given some guidance.
The governor has said that protesting crowds won’t determine his decisions, only science and data will.
With that in mind, Didier and others frustrated with Inslee’s slow approach to opening the economy would be more effective if they showed as much interest in protecting public health as they do in criticizing the governor and his stay-home order.
People are dying from the coronavirus. That fact should not be so easily shrugged off.
If Didier truly wants to help his constituents — and we believe he does — then he and others behind the lawsuit must not be so willing to sacrifice public health.