© 2022 Tootie Smith for Oregon. All Rights Reserved.

Standing Up for Our Essential Workers

As chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, I take much responsibility for what happens with the county, its residents and its employees.

The governor’s most recent COVID related mandates drew my attention because of their potential impacts on the hard-working people who help us provide services to every man, woman and child in Clackamas County. Of particular concern was the impacts on our brave public safety employees and our heroes in the health care sector.

I wanted to have a strong resolution from the Board of County Commissioners to present to the governor at a meeting she had scheduled with county board chairs from throughout the state. Our board spent two weeks working on it and we came up with a draft resolution.

Having received input from my fellow commissioners, I put the draft resolution on the agenda for the Board of County Commissioners’ Business Meeting held on September 23. My fellow commissioners had ample opportunities to submit any changes they wanted to see well in advance of that meeting.

The resolution simply and clearly stated the county’s determination to continue having its public health department offer free and accessible COVID vaccinations to anyone who wants them. It also requested that the state reevaluate the terms of the vaccine mandate to consider all options that could prevent further exhaustion and departure of core public service providers. That includes an extension of the deadline for those employees to be fully vaccinated, regular COVID tested, religious and medical exemptions and recognition of effective, proven technologies in the workplace.

It also states the board’s determination to advocate the state legislature to allow for the easy transferrable licensure agreements between sates for healthcare providers. The resolution also urged the governor to engage in listening sessions with the business community and public to hear directly about these workforce issues.

In short, the intention of those resolution was to express the board’s support for policies that can keep first responders and medical personnel on the job.

Commissioner Paul Savas had offered up the language in the revised draft. On the day of the meeting, I stated my support for the resolution and the reasons why it is necessary. Some sectors of our workforce are feeling overwhelmed, and we need to do everything we can to keep those professionals from leaving their positions. They’ve been our heroes for the last year and a half, and we must offer solutions to mitigate the impacts on our service delivery system.

I felt, and still feel, that extending the deadline was reasonable. A similar extension was given to state employees, so it made sense to me that county workers should receive the same courtesy. It was also important to me that the sheriff’s office deputies who work at our jail have basic workplace protections.

The audience members in attendance expressed their clear support for the resolution.

A motion was made to adopt the resolution, and it was seconded. But even though they had weeks to make any changes they wanted to see, some of my fellow commissioners backed down from supporting it at the last minute.

One objected to the use of the word “mandate.” Another said that he couldn’t support the resolution, which he himself largely wrote, unless the vote would be unanimous. This was nothing but a pure political cop out.

I stated that throughout the process, I gave in and compromised and didn’t see the willingness of other commissioners to do the same.

The resolution didn’t pass, and the board lost a critical opportunity to stand up for its most essential workers.

However, this disappointing setback will not deter me from seeking ways to continue doing so as the board’s chair.

A Community-Wide Effort results in Clackamas County moving to ‘Lower Risk’

Published in Pamplin MediaGroup – EstacadaNews

“This is great news for our Clackamas County residents and businesses. I’d like to express my thanks to our local business community and residents for their sacrifices as they worked to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community. I’m hopeful that with our collective efforts we will soon fully reopen and get back to business,” Clackamas County Commission Chair Tootie Smith said.

Read more…

Content credit to Pamplin MediaGroup – EstacadaNews

Tootie Smith demands Gov Brown return public health authority back to the counties where it is mandated by Oregon constitution.

The Governor’s new lockdowns are unacceptable.

Her plans for over the last year have been an abject failure, driving businesses to bankruptcy, people to unemployment lines and harming the mental health of adults and children alike.

Its time for new innovative proven technologies to fight Covid 19, like what the airlines have been using for months now. Science, technology and innovation are our friends and we can’t even have a conversation in this state about it.

As more and more people are being vaccinated every day, it is time for a new approach that does not penalize businesses. I implore the state to use an accurate data driven approach they have touted to make decisions about business restrictions.  If the state were truly using a data driven approach, we would not be restricting restaurants and closing gyms.

Gov Brown needs to return what she took away through executive order and that is: the public health authority to the counties of Oregon as mandated by Oregon Constitution.  That is the job of county government and  each county knows their metrics, health and businesses.

 Gov Brown’s actions continue to erode trust in our communities and is preventing the people who are charged by law with caring for the public health of their communities from doing their job. It’s time Gov Brown care and respect the people she was elected to serve.

I want to be clear, that although  we are advocating that Gov Brown consider another approach to restrictions on businesses, I believe we should continue to follow the public safety protocols that we have been following for the past year to keep us safe.

It’s important for residents to know many different approaches can be done at the same time. We can open businesses, preserve the health of everyone, provide vaccinations and develop ways to combat future known and unknown viruses  with proven technology. Oregon deserves better, each person deserves better.

Tootie Smith’s plan to Re-Open Clackamas County

Summary of a Draft to Re-Open Clackamas County

Combatting CoVid-19

By Tootie Smith

May 7, 2020

Download PDF of full report here

Combatting CoVid-19 in its tracks and returning society to normal is as important as caring for the people who have contracted the disease.

Realizing that government assistance programs will soon extinguish, and a functional economy is integral to survival, it is vital that Oregon and Clackamas County specifically attempt to re-open its businesses, governments, schools, recreation and sporting events, outdoor activities and all medical facilities in a responsible manner. This plan includes guidelines to keep people healthy while recognizing individual responsibility for people’s own health and welfare and people’s own behavior upon the health and welfare of others.

The most current data used from the Oregon Health Authority is evaluated which leads to the conclusion that Clackamas County can begin to reopen. Oregon’s current mortality rate is 0.04 which is close to the 0.03 mortality rate of the Hong Kong Flu (H3N2) and the Swine Flu (H1N1). Supporting data is shown on page 1 in figure 1. Statistics for Clackamas County show a decline in growth rate similar to statewide collection.

Criteria for opening as established by health authorities and Gov. Brown has been met and is proved by scientific established procedures, data collection coupled with people’s willingness to change their behavior by  minimizing the spread of the disease through isolation, hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes is also integral. Personal responsibility in all areas is key and should be noted.

Demographics are important to note since an overwhelming majority of deaths occurred in ages 60 to 90 with 95% suffering from underlying health conditions. Ages 0 to 49 have a total of 1,330 infections and no deaths ending May 3, 2020. Oregon’s total population is 4.2 million. It could be concluded that CoVid-19 is on par with other diseases and the threat of higher infection and mortality rate assumed by university models did not meet expectations. Page 1, figure 1.

Decline in growth rate.  The peak occurred on April 4, 2020 for all of Oregon, and Clackamas County is well past the peak according to Figure 4 on page 4, OHA positive total cases is 2,680 for all Oregon ending May 3.  This criterion has been met.

Sufficient personal protective equipment, PPE. Figure 6 on page 6 shows the PPE inventory for May 3, 2020, which supports OHA’s statement that we have sufficient PPE for an increase when Oregon returns to work.  This criterion has been met.

Hospital surge capacity. Data shows ample hospital beds are available in Figure 7 on page 7. The criterion has been met.

Robust testing and tracking along with strategies for caring for the hardest hit, vulnerable and homeless are discussed on page 8. Tests are available. The criterion has been met.

Ultimately, Guidelines and Goals are identified which includes acknowledging the fact that learning to ward off potential known and unknown viruses for a future outbreak is essential. Strategies for combating and defeating most all viruses are presented with scientific data and proven techniques on pages 9 and 10. Main sectors in American life is listed with an outline for how to reopen successfully.

Two important examples are cited as preventative measures for stopping viruses before they become a pandemic. The use of UV lighting in HVAC systems in schools, hospitals and care facilities should be recommended as it kills viruses. Wastewater treatment facilities can begin robust testing to include identification of virus where the population sector lives.

It cannot be stressed enough that a functional healthy economy is as vital to the human condition as is their physical and mental health. Both economic health and physical bodily health can be attained at the same time and should become our goal as we learn to live and prosper in a world where disease is present.