Commissioner says governor’s new mask rule defies basic science, logic

An Island County commissioner said she will refuse to follow Gov. Jay Inslee’s latest rule related to COVID-19 because she believes it does not follow basic science.

During the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday, Public Health Director Keith Higman explained to the three-member board that, beginning June 8, nearly all employees in the state will be required to wear a cloth facial covering or face mask, except when working alone in an office, vehicle or job site.

Under the rule, employers must provide facial coverings to employers.

Commissioner Jill Johnson pointed out that masks were not a requirement during the peak of the pandemic and that it’s not health officers calling for the rule, but a politician.

Johnson said she is concerned about government overreach.

“At some point we need to make sure,” she said, “the things that government is requiring of people are things that government should be requiring, and they should be based in logic and facts.”

Last week, Higman explained that new Centers for Disease Control guidelines say masks should be worn when six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained for 15 minutes or more.

Commissioner Janet St. Clair said she shares Johnson’s concerns. She discussed the specifics of the latest guidelines.

“If there’s new science, let’s have a conversation about that,” she said.

Johnson said she’s not usually a person who engages in civil disobedience, but she will make an exception in this case. She said she does not understand the logic, and that it’s an important issue for her.

Island County was granted a variance to begin Phase 2 of the governor’s Safe Start reopening plan early.

The county has only had one positive COVID-19 test in the last three weeks, which resulted in the death of a Camano Island resident in her 40s who had pre-existing medical problems.

The county also tested more than 2,600 people without symptoms and nobody tested positive.

Johnson isn’t the only commissioner in the state who has threatened to defy the governor.

Skagit County commissioners said they planned to move the county to Phase 2 Friday, with or without approval from the state, the Skagit Valley Herald reported.