Capitol

The Capitol Building is seen Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Olympia.

The recent increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths is very concerning. I feel for those who are sick and those who have lost loved ones. I also worry about the capacity of our healthcare facilities to handle another wave of patients.

Senate Republicans can be ready with a day’s notice to convene an emergency special session, as we’ve asked the governor to do repeatedly. 

The Senate has prepared to do that virtually or in a modified format to ensure social distancing. We need more voices at the table on these decisions and support legislative action. There would likely be far more widespread support for safety measures if they weren’t being dictated to us by one man.

We are looking at a rapidly increasing death toll, overwhelmed healthcare facilities and another surge of business shutdowns and unemployment over the holidays — more than 3,000 small businesses lost forever already. 

We must do everything possible to protect people’s lives, but also protect their ability to provide for their families. 

Many can’t feed their children. We are seeing an increase in suicides as well as more deaths from the virus. Unemployment and financial ruin are driving that desperation. The holidays are already a difficult time for people. Taking away their jobs is dangerous. Shutdowns, as well as the virus, have tragic results.

Including Republican voices would bring new ideas — right now their constituents are not represented in this process. Pierce County Republican leadership has used federal CARES Act funding to give their citizens a 30 percent discount at restaurants. If that needs to be limited to takeout for a while, so be it. But we would encourage solutions which both save lives and livelihoods. 

Bringing all voices to the table encourages the best solutions. Keeping one person in charge of the whole state shuts other voices and other solutions out.

We all have pandemic fatigue and deeply long to celebrate holidays in person with our families. I urge people not to let their guard down. 

We need to practice safety measures. But realistically, a ban on social gatherings is hard to enforce. We don’t want to be like Oregon whose governor — it is rumored — has threatened to send police into people’s homes to raid their turkey dinner.

We need to take a broader view of how this virus is impacting us all. 

Not only have we seen the number of cases rise, but we’ve also seen an increase in suicides and domestic violence. 

News reports have documented people going without medical treatment. I heard of one family who said the father died from COVID-19, but not the virus itself. He died because of the loneliness brought on by his isolation.

 Another family had its family member trapped in long-term care for five months with no ability to see her. Just recently, I heard of parents finding out their straight-A son brought home failing grades because remote learning was just not working for him. 

No one is untouched by this.

•••

Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, is the Senate Republican leader.  

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