Klamath County Public Health Director Jennifer Little asked county commissioners on Tuesday to rethink their public stance in opposition to statewide COVID-19 mandates and instead send a message to the community about the seriousness of the virus.
The commissioners declined to do so.
Commissioner Donnie Boyd said in the public meeting streamed virtually that people are tired of COVID and restrictions on their lives. Little agreed that everyone is tired of COVID, but that it was crucial to stop community spread to save lives.
Little also asked the board for a statement, because she said public health staff feel unsupported.
Commissioners then said they support the public health department. Commissioner Derrick DeGroot said the board has always told residents to follow CDC guidelines.
Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris said she felt more messaging wouldn’t be effective.
“There’s a lot of people who have this mentality of like, well, if only the board would come out and say wear a mask everything would be fine,” she said. “That’s just not true.”
Minty Morris emphasized their previous statements advocating for local control and opposing statewide mandates. DeGroot said business closures don’t target the places where COVID is spreading most: social gatherings.
DeGroot said their previous statements were “at the end of the day, be smart and do what’s right for your family.”
On Tuesday, Sky Lakes Medical Center announced it had reached capacity in its COVID isolation unit and would open another as patients continued to be admitted. Case rates have jumped precipitously in Klamath County over the last two weeks.
Little left the meeting without a new message from county commissioners.