County Commissioner snaps at doctor begging for help: 'I’m not going to hog-tie anybody and give them a vaccination'
The morgue in the local hospital is full. New coronavirus cases are surging at such a fast rate the chart almost looks like a hockey stick.
Josephine County, Oregon, is being ravaged by COVID-19, and its three County Commissioners aren't doing anything to stop it.
"We are in a full-blown healthcare crisis in our community," Asante Three Rivers Medical Center CEO Win Howard told the county commissioners at a nearly three-hour meeting Tuesday, as Jefferson Public Radio's April Ehrlich reports. "I've never seen anything like this before."
On July 29 the seven-day average of new coronavirus cases was 14 per day. It's now 117. On Wednesday, 141 new coronavirus cases were recorded for just that day. And the county is behind state and national averages for getting its residents vaccinated.
For three hours medical professionals spoke with the Josephine County commissioners, who refused to take any action to stop the spread of the coronavirus, to educate or urge the local residents to get vaccinated, wear masks, and observe other evidence-based deterrents to the deadly virus.
It's not just adults that are contracting COVID.
"Pediatrician Steven Marshak told commissioners that his hospital is seeing an increase in children who have developed Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome following their coronavirus infections," Jefferson Public Radio notes.
"These kids are sick," Marshak said. "Really sick. Some of the sickest kids I've ever taken care of. They're in multi-system organ failure. They're in shock."
Desperate, one surgeon begged for help, asking the commissioners to do something, the very least possible they could to help.
"I would ask that you speak in a unified voice," Dr. Scott Nelson said. "That we encourage our community, and our county, to wear a mask, to be socially distanced, and to talk to their provider — if that's the most you'll give us — on receiving the vaccine."
"I'm not going to hog-tie anybody and give them a vaccination, k?" Commissioner Herman Baertschiger Jr., the Josephine County Commission Vice Chairman (photo), told Nelson.
Baertschiger, a Republican and former state senator who admits he has declined to be vaccinated, said last month that if people in his county "aren't going to get vaccinated — and I tell you they're not going to get vaccinated — and the governor is going to open the counties by how many people get vaccinated…we may be in lockdown for the rest of our lives."
He then played the victim, lamenting the public criticism county commissioners endure due to Governor Kate Brown's mask mandate, which went into effect last Friday.
"I think everybody in the medical [sic] that are here to testify don't understand what happens to us," Baertschiger said. "Let me give you a sample."
Baertschiger read a piece of text aloud about Gov. Kate Brown "forcing face masks on citizens entering businesses," although it wasn't clear what he was reading. He also said he's researched "very credible people" who have warned against getting the coronavirus vaccine.
How does this board make a decision with all this information coming at us from everywhere?" Commissioner Baertschiger asked the group of doctors and medical experts sitting in front of him.
The commissioners also repeatedly interrupted the health and medical experts "to question the efficacy of the vaccines, suggest the surge was caused by Mexican immigrants, and promote medicines like hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID — even though there's no scientific evidence showing that those medicines can successfully treat or prevent the coronavirus."
Even with numbers skyrocketing in recent weeks, Josephine County opted to continue with its county fair over the we… https://t.co/i837hbk6nj— April Ehrlich (@April Ehrlich) 1629347807.0
Last month Jefferson Public Radio also reported the county commissioners had declined Governor Kate Brown's offer of a $540,000 grant to help promote vaccines.
"Now we're getting into tricking people into getting, or making it financially to their advantage to get a, a thing, even if they don't believe it," County Commissioner Dan DeYoung said in a May 13 meeting. "I'm real skeptical of that."