PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Healthcare officials are speaking out after a Clackamas County politician publicly rebuked Governor Kate Brown’s orders to forgo large holiday gatherings.
Tootie Smith, the incoming chair of the Clackamas County Commission, responded to Brown’s mandated two-week freeze on social gatherings on Facebook, saying, “My family will celebrate Thanksgiving with as many family and friends as I can find. Gov Brown is WRONG to order otherwise.”
The Republican later said of Brown’s mandate, “We do not need to be treated as second rate slaves in our own homes” during an appearance on FOX News.
Smith again doubled down on her message during an interview with KOIN 6 News’ AM Extra.
“We are responsible and intelligent, we do not need to be treated like children in our own homes,” Smith said. “The government has no right to invade the privacy of people in their own homes.”
But a former tri-county health officer says Smith’s message is irresponsible.
“This has launched some controversy and it needs vigorous pushback from those of us who have devoted our lives and careers to caring for others. We want to do our work and we need your help to do it,” said Dr. Paul Lewis.
Lewis, who is the former health officer for Clackamas County and now works in private practice, said the concern is that people will get together and someone who is an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 will spread the disease to numerous households.
“I’ve been in touch with a number of physician leaders today and people are universally aghast at the idea that people would promote something so dangerous,” he said. “Our hospitals are crowded and getting more crowded now.”
‘It’s time for Tootie to go’
Peter Lund, who’s a partner at a small business on Main Street in Oregon City, was in a COVID testing line with his 4-year-old son when he saw that Facebook post by Tootie Smith.
“We were 3 hours in to what turned into a 5-hour wait when a friend of mine texted the link to Tootie’s post,” Lund told KOIN 6 News. “Initially I just kind of shook my head because we’ve seen stuff like this.”
But Lund, who said his wife works in a hospital, said he grew more and more upset as he thought about Smith’s defiant posture against safety guidelines and the example he said it sets for the public.
“When I thought about all the doctors and nurses that I know, all the parents that I know who are struggling to get by with their jobs and keeping their kids in school, knowing that our elected leadership was doing everything they could to keep those people in those difficult conditions — that made me mad and it’s something that inspired me to put my thoughts on paper,” he said.
Soon his thoughts were published as an op-ed in the Portland Tribune (a KOIN media partner). In it, he said the people of Clackamas County should start collecting signatures to recall Smith — who won’t even be the Clackamas County chair until January.
“When you make a decision that is so obviously going to damage our community, going to hurt our healthcare workers, our healthcare infrastructures, going to keep teachers and kids out of classrooms, going to keep the doors of small businesses closed, yeah, it’s pretty obvious that she does not deserve to be in leadership,” Lund said.