Spiffy's 'Peaceful Protest'

Crowds gather during a protest at Spiffy’s south of Chehalis last week.

As opposition and outright rebellion grows in Lewis County in response to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and social gatherings, Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer and Sheriff Rob Snaza signed a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee asking that the state take the lead in enforcement efforts. 

The letter stops short of saying local agencies won’t enforce the orders, but says the state has not given enough guidance or support to allow them to do so. It also states that Inslee should call upon the Washington State Patrol if needing law enforcement assistance on a COVID-19 mandate-related matter. 

“While Lewis County still encourages its citizenry to be proactive in preventing the spread of COVID-19, the enforcement of the regulations must fall to the state,” the letter reads. “By allowing the state to enforce its COVID-19 related mandates, Lewis County will be able to allocate resources to the consequences resulting from the restrictions, not the disease itself.”

The letter was released not long after Lewis County Public Health and Social Services Director J.P. Anderson sent a press release on a similar topic. 

“Up to this point, our local health department has only enforced locally generated orders. The state’s Safe Start orders clearly say that L&I has enforcement authority and responsibility for state-level orders,” said J.P. Anderson, director of Lewis County Public Health and Social Services. “We have our department needs to focus on supporting disease investigations, supporting our schools, and now planning to distribute the vaccine which is anticipated to arrive shortly.”

Meyer and Snaza were sharply critical of Inslee’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in general. 

“While some restrictions may be appropriate, the state has failed to effectively communicate sufficient information or rationale for much, if not most, of the restrictions,” the letter reads. “The state has also failed to provide adequate resources or guidance to local authorities saddled with much of the ‘enforcement’ role resulting from the state’s mandates.”

The letter noted increases in domestic violence, overdoses, suicides and mental and physical health issues since the beginning of the pandemic and related restrictions to businesses and social activities. 

“We hope, as the one that created and imposed these restrictions, you will acknowledge the measures taken thus far have not achieved the desired impact on the spread of COVID-19,” the letter reads, going on to say that “loss of hope, the despair, or the desperation,” they attribute to Inslee’s orders related to business and social gatherings are worse than the pandemic itself.