At the Local Candidates' forum held by the Harney County Democrats this week, none of the candidates supported Governor Kate Brown's mask mandates or mandatory vaccinations. They felt that the only legitimate role government could take was that of educator. This view was held even though, statewide, Oregon had among the lowest COVID-19 death rate in the country. It was striking that none of the candidates mentioned that their role, if elected, would be of a government leader and, as such, setting the example. One candidate, Patty Dorroh, suggested the possibility that the care administered by the hospital was the reason the death rate was so high. None suggested that politicization of the COVID-19 response or poverty was a factor. However, Pete Runnels, the current County Judge, reported that he was "beat up pretty good" for supporting the advice of public health experts, including his own Harney County Public Health Director.
Oregon Capital Chronicle ("Report: Harney County has highest Covid-19 death rate on West Coast"):
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