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Ellensburg, WA 98926-2887
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Kittitas (pronounced 'KITT-i-tass') County is located in central Washington
State. It spans from the lush forested Cascade Mountains to the upper Yakima River Valley plains and
the Columbia River.
Kittitas County, WA -
The regional system of the 'Roadmap to Recovery' is harming Kittitas County, to no-one's benefit. Sheriff Clay Myers has issued the following statement:
In response to the Governor’s announcement on February 11, 2021, that Kittitas County, attached to the South Central Region, will remain in Phase I while all other regions in Washington State will move into Phase II, I pose the following questions:
Who benefits from keeping Kittitas County in Phase 1? Not the state, not the region, and not Yakima, Benton, Franklin, Columbia or Walla Walla Counties. Certainly not the businesses or members of Kittitas County. We know who it harms, so who does it benefit? If it benefits no one and harms many, why are we doing it?
We have achieved lower COVID rates than the state average as well as lower rates than some counties already in Phase II. We have received national recognition for our public health efforts, including having the highest vaccination rate in Washington State. Taken on our own, Kittitas County is meeting and surpassing the metrics set by the state. Considered independently we would easily qualify to move to Phase 2, along with most of the rest of the state.
I recognize that nothing about this issue is simple. The state and the Governor face complex and difficult choices deciding how to manage a pandemic, and every county is doing what it can to move forward. I hold no animosity for the struggling counties in our region. It’s not those counties that are holding us back—it is the mistaken assignment of our county to a region that’s structurally and socially different from ours. Just as we have no jurisdiction or control over them, they have none over us. We have no control over the occupational practices, adherence to mandates, testing or distribution of vaccines in neighboring counties, so what are the expectations from the state once an individual county has succeeded?
Governor Inslee has told Washington’s counties that they are in the driver’s seat, able to control their destiny in this matter; but this Roadmap has put us very much in the backseat of a region we can neither meaningfully help or influence.
The Sheriff’s Office will join our Incident Management Team, Commissioners and Prosecutor this afternoon in requesting the Governor recognize our county has achieved what the state has asked. Our achievement should be recognized independently, and we should be reassigned to the North Central group of counties we’ve always worked with. Keeping us in Phase 1 continues to harm our community; Allowing us to move forward as a county reduces that harm with no negative impact to the state or region.
Clay Myers, Sheriff
Kittitas County, from the Cascades to the Columbia, and online at http://www.co.kittitas.wa.us
Kittitas County has a total area of 2,333 square miles. The highest point in the county is Mount Daniel at 7,959 feet above sea level.