Bertha Cooper

Think About It: Vote for life without COVID

Once again, I am dismayed at the failure of elected officials to provide leadership in controlling the spread of COVID-19 so we can begin the post-pandemic normalization of our community.

My disappointment was triggered by pages 6 and 7 of the Sept. 12 edition of the Peninsula Daily News. On page 7 were articles with screaming headlines about the dangers and consequences of the Delta virus. Among the articles was the continuation of an article from page 1 reporting an interview with a physician pleading with people to understand the danger of COVID.

Contrarily, page 6 headlined the Sequim City Council’s agenda of a proposed resolution to essentially ignore state and local health orders mandating proof of vaccinations for indoor restaurant dining and masks for other indoor activity.

Then there were the words of Clallam County physicians and other health professionals expressed in a full-page ad on page 5: “The COVID-19 pandemic is happening. We can choose how we get through it. We can blame and attack each other and live the consequences — broken relationships, more infections, more death. Or we can do our best to find common ground to keep our community safe and treat each other with dignity and respect. We who have signed here commit to doing so. We ask you to join us.”

However, the Sequim City Council insists on mistakenly claiming their responsibility is only to the freedom of choice even if it has the demonstrated potential to harm others. They mistakenly make false equivalency between personal choice and controlling a deadly contagion.

The Sequim City Council passed the resolution to ignore the protective mandates the next day by a 4-3 margin effectively ignoring the pleas of our medical community with this poke in the eye. The council passed the resolution knowing it does not override state and local law.

Naked political pandering

Is that all there is?

How could the Sequim mayor say he’s “not suggesting going against any professional as an expert in their field” or ”suggesting breaking any law,” when that’s exactly what this mistaken resolution is suggesting?

Should we not wonder why they did not seek to have a process as the letter suggests that examines the issues and comes up with ways to control the spread of COVID and protect individual rights?

Ask candidates for city council how each would work to restore our economy, health care delivery system and sense of community. Ask them to explain why or why isn’t controlling the spread of COVID part of that restoration.

Ask them to “find the common ground” as part of their job and try to work with all constituents to restore our community.

Most of us can envision a process that includes businesses as well as medical professionals striving to make it all work. Perhaps, there is a standardization that would make it work for all businesses.

Processes like these are hard but possible with the sincere work of people trying to solve an important issue to the community.

Owning our freedom of choice

“I know that the actions of body, speech and mind are my only true belongs. I know I cannot escape the consequences of my actions of body, speech and mind.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

I deeply believe we are accountable for our actions because we are in control of our actions. We are helped if we strive to understand the consequences of our actions.

And isn’t this especially important in our representative government in which elected officials made choices on our behalf. The consequences of their actions affect many lives.

Most of us cherish the freedom to have control over our choices, our decisions, our bodies, our lives. We have the freedom to make decisions in our daily lives. Every day we make choices whether it’s what to eat for breakfast or when to pay a bill. We can become kind of prickly when we believe our freedom of choice is being taken from us. At least in those situations in which we have some control.

As we are learning in this contentious time, it’s not always easy to live that freedom. We must understand that once made, we own the choice; that, it is ours with all its consequences.

The right to be wrong

I learned on this day that 1 in 500 Americans have died from COVID. To date, nearly 675,000 people have died from COVID. If the current rate is not slowed, it is estimated that deaths will reach 800,000 by the end of the year.

I am afraid that is or will be the fate of more people, especially those who are convinced it is a battle between their right to decide and the government removing their rights to decide.

Those who choose not to be vaccinated seem to see the pressure to vaccinate from their doctor, family, friends and, in some cases employers, as a denial of their right to refuse treatment.

Recall that you are offered a copy of the patient’s bill of rights every time to seek medical care. Patients, otherwise known as people who are under medical care, have a bill of rights including “being informed of his or her health status, being involved in care planning and treatment, and being able to request or refuse treatment.”

Once informed, the patient can refuse treatment. The patient can refuse vaccination.

However, their argument about rights is not relevant when they claim rights to be unfettered with masks or distancing around others, including children not eligible for vaccination.

We cannot control the spread of COVID to the vulnerable by the unmasked and unvaccinated with asymptomatic or mild cases of COVID but we can beware of and not vote for people who pay lip service to supporting personal rights by making meaningless resolutions and failing to work hard to relieve our community of this deadly virus.

We must learn about the related views of candidates for the contested positions in city councils, school boards and hospital board commissioners and vote for the candidates with a vision and willingness to work for a healthy thriving community supported by highly skilled and compassionate medical and public health services.

Bertha Cooper, a featured columnist in the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation. Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 20 years. Reach her at columnists@sequimgazette.com.

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