Dear Governor Brown;
My name is Erik Dolson, and I live in Sisters, Oregon. I’m writing to suggest an alternative to current COVID restrictions.
First, however, I need to declare my interests. I own a building in Bend that houses a popular restaurant, currently closed. I am also an avid “gym rat,” a member of the shuttered Sisters Athletic Club and, until last week, the Multnomah Athletic Club in Portland where I was a member for more than 65 years until degradation of that city made my return very unlikely.
I also have background that may or may not carry weight. I served on the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners for four years at the request of Gov. Kitzhaber, published a local newspaper for 25 years, served eight years on the county planing commission, three years on the local school board, and graduated with a degree in philosophy for whatever that’s worth (not much without a law degree, it turned out). I bring these up to show that I also participate, and don’t just carp from the sidelines.
My concern with the most recent COVID restrictions is that they don’t sift with a fine-enough screen. The Sisters Athletic Club had a rigorous sanitation program, and to the best of my knowledge has not caused a single case of COVID. In fact, I’ve been told that no athletic club in Oregon has been the source of a “spreader” event.
I believe athletic clubs are a key factor in maintaining my health and that of others in my age group (70+), especially now that 6 inches of snow on the ground makes it tough to run safely on the local trails. If a case of COVID can be traced to an athletic club, by all means, shut it down.
I make the same argument for restaurants in my building and community. It’s not difficult to separate guests by more than six feet and mandate that servers and kitchen crew wear masks and gloves. We can increase air changes per hour, even here where it’s 22 degrees as I write. I do not know of a restaurant locally that has been associated with a case of COVID.
I understand the worry of “shutting the gate after horses are out,” but it’s possible we’re shutting the wrong gate on the wrong barn. Ironically, the only “spreader event” I’m aware of in Central Oregon occurred at the hospital in Redmond. COSTCO had seven employees who came down with the virus, and Hooker Creek Sand and Gravel had eight, I believe. These businesses are responsible for these outbreaks. Don’t restrict those which implemented safe practices.
Thank you for your time to read this, and your considerable efforts on behalf of the people of Oregon.