Cowlitz County on Monday marked a week without a new coronavirus infection as the Kelso City Council got set to consider a proclamation instructing police and officials not to enforce Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home order.
The council will consider the proclamation by Councilman Keenan Harvey during a meeting Tuesday evening.
The proclamation states that the stay-home order is unclear about which businesses are allowed to operate and when the order will end. And it says the order fails to address county-by-county population differences “while inflicting major economic losses daily.”
“Kelso City employees are not employed by the Governor of the state, thus making the decision to enforce Governor Inslee’s orders a decision of the City Council regardless of the outcome of the Lawsuits determining constitutionality. Businesses wishing to open and operate shall do so using responsible social distancing policies and procedures without fear of retribution or investigation from the City of Kelso,” the proclamation states.
On his Facebook page, Harvey said he doesn’t believe the proclamation conflicts with Inslee’s orders because it isn’t asking businesses to open.
“The proclamation is simply utilizing the cities (sic) discretion to not enforce the orders which would remove ourselves from liability concerns,” he wrote. “My opinion is that if the state isn’t going to make the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order clear and concise, then the state should be responsible for the enforcement.”
Kelso City Manager Andy Hamilton said Monday that the proclamation would change very little. The county Incident Management Team has been handling matters related to the stay-home order and “to my knowledge, they haven’t made any corrections at all,” Hamilton said. “They’ve just tried to educate people as to what the orders say.”
Hamilton added that the council is unlikely to pass the proclamation once it hears “all the legal background.”
Local health officials said the slowdown of Cowlitz County cases indicates that social distancing and other COVID-19 safety precautions are working. The county is still doing a “significant amount of testing. We just are not getting positives,” county deputy health officer Dr. Steven Krager said Monday.
A weeklong gap since the last cases “is a good sign,” Krager said. “The longest gap we’ve had before this was four days.”
The county has had 68 infections but no deaths.