Rep. Wilcox Decries ‘Inequitable Treatment’ of Counties in Reopening Plan

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House Minority Leader Rep. J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, sounded off against Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent decision to put all counties in Washington state on a two-week pause in the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan.

Inslee said the pause was issued after recent data surfaced showing evidence of a potential plateau in disease activity.

Wilcox took objection to the move in light of the governor’s recent decision to put Pierce County back in Phase 2 of the reopening plan after infections and hospitalizations in the region increased.

“Many of us are dismayed by the inequitable treatment of Pierce County in comparison to King County,” Wilcox said in a news release on Wednesday. “Last month, Pierce County asked for a pause on a phase rollback and was denied. This week, a pause was granted for King County.”

Wilcox used this fact to refocus on House Republicans’ efforts to reform the emergency powers invested in the office of the governor.

“On April 16, House Republicans attempted to bring bipartisan emergency powers reform legislation to the floor for a vote,” Wilcox said. “Every House Democrat — including those representing Pierce County — voted against it.”

Wilcox did say that he is glad that Pierce County officials appear to be addressing the assumptive disparity.

“I appreciate that there may be a letter circulating among the Pierce County delegation to send to the governor, and I hope it is successful,” he said. “I also hope the lesson we all take from this is there should always be legislative oversight on emergency powers.”

Thurston County’s infection rate increased in recent weeks, as did numbers in neighboring regions, like King County. Inslee and Public Health - Seattle & King County Director Jeff Duchin said the plateau is evidenced by the most up-to-date analysis and the pause will help officials determine the best practice for reopening the state.

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