Written by: Emma Randich
In reaction to the Stay-at-Home Order put in place by Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State and to the extension of the order, many lawmakers and Washiontonians have filed a lawsuit to reverse Inslee´s emergency order. A major contributor to this lawsuit is representative Chris Corry of Yakima who decided to join in an effort to help the citizens of Washington provide for their families financially. He has paid out of his own pocket and is not using public funds to pursue this case. He states ¨I want to be clear. I understand that this is a crisis, and I understand that these deaths are tragedies and I don't like seeing them. I know people whose families have been impacted by these, people need to be able to feed their families. I´m hearing from people in the state who are going to food banks for the first time in their lives, who are having trouble collecting unemployment. Where we can, we need to get people safety back to work¨(Janelle Retka. Yakima Herald).
The lawsuit itself reads ¨COVID-19 presents a statistically insignificant threat to the health of children, young adults, and healthy adults of middle and even slightly advanced age. They argue that while ´older and sicker´ community members remain at risk, the new Coronavirus does not constitute a state of emergency because it says the broader population is not at risk and hospitals have not been overwhelmed...COVID-19 illnesses and deaths are almost exclusively confined to those who are older or have serious existing illnesses, there cannot be a state of emergency justifying impositions on the civil liberties of every other resident of the state of Washington. The lawsuit also claims that inadequate data has been released to the public by state health officials and that there will be more harm caused if the state does not reopen. Representative Corry has listed the harms caused by this order including loss of business sales, deprivation of medical and dental care, deprivation of orthodontic care, deprivation of schooling and sports, and the inability to attend church. Andrew Barkis of Olympia claims that even the Governor's data he uses proves that the curve has flattened making people question why the order has been extended. He also claims that Inslee is irresponsible. Barkis thinks ¨the impact to the state of Washington, our economy, is going to be so great that we’re not even talking about those that are impacted, the deaths that have resulted from suicide, from desperation, from all of the people who have not been able to achieve or have medical care that is not COVID-related¨(Rantz, Jason. My Northwest).
The suit asks for relief from Inslee´s Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation, which it claims infringes on our constitutional and civil rights, including the right to peacefully assemble and to work for a living. The law making officials including Brandon Vick of Vancouver, Drew Stokesbary of Auburn, Kelly Chambers of Puyallup, Morgan Irwin of Enumclaw, and Drew MacEwen of Union, offer advice on how Washington should proceed in addition to the lawsuit. They believe there should be quarantined efforts that mainly focus on only those who are sick or vulnerable to the virus and that those who appear healthy should be allowed to return to work safely. They are not in favor of a ¨light switch” reopening of the economy, rather they believe that the Washington government should be able to reopen its economy but give the people the choice of how they want to protect themselves and their families. They should be allowed to work but if they do not want to risk receiving COVID-19 then they do not need to go back to work. It should be the citizens choice, not the governments.
Governor Inslee responded to the lawsuit stating that he ¨vigorously disagree[s] with them. [He] thinks they are not only short-sighted but dangerous¨(Para 6. Q13 Fox). His Chief of Staff David Postman addressed this lawsuit in a media briefing calling it upsetting and said that those said signatories should be ashamed of their attack on public health experts and their work.
Currently, Washington state is in phase one of reopenings its economy which has included the reopening of many state parks, some outdoors recreation like hunting, golfing, and fishing. Construction sites have been resumed as well as retail curbside pickup, and the selling and washing of automobiles. Phase two is said to be put in place on June 1st, following the guidelines of a minimum three weeks in between each stage.
Q13 News Staff. “Republican Lawmakers File Lawsuit Challenging Extension of Inslee's Stay-at-Home Order.” Q13 FOX News, 5 May 2020, q13fox.com/2020/05/05/republican-lawmakers-file-lawsuit-challenging-extension-of-inslees-stay-at-home-order/.
Retka, Janelle, and Yakima Herald-Republic. “Yakima Rep. Corry Part of Lawsuit against Inslee to Reverse Stay-at-Home Order.” Yakima Herald-Republic, 12 May 2020, www.yakimaherald.com/special_projects/coronavirus/yakima-rep-corry-part-of-lawsuit-against-inslee-to-reverse-stay-at-home-order/article_19bb51d2-2af0-5bc4-aa55-91031f29f035.html.
Staff, MyNorthwest. “WA Rep Files Lawsuit against Stay-at-Home Order, Calls Inslee 'Irresponsible'.” MyNorthwest.com, 7 May 2020, mynorthwest.com/1855482/inslee-order-lawsuit-wa/.