The Multnomah County Republican Party passed a resolution Monday chiding Gov. Kate Brown for ordering business and school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. The document accuses Brown of prioritizing human life over economic stability.
"Whereas the risk to public health from COVID-19 may never fully be eliminated," the resolution reads, "and the Governor's actions have failed to balance the human and economic costs of maintaining a lockdown against the potential for disease."
It continues: "Whereas quarantining is the confinement of sick people, while tyranny is the confinement of the healthy."
The county Republicans shared this resolution and a link to an online petition in a Tuesday morning press release.
“We don’t put 5 mph speed limits on every road in Oregon because it would reduce traffic deaths," said James Buchal, chair of the Multnomah County Republican Party. "But that is the sort of irrational decision making represented by Governor Brown’s Executive Orders shutting down Oregon."
The resolution demands Brown "immediately" lift her executive order mandating business closures and instead follow the White House's framework for reopening the country's economy. Yet the White House's current plan for restarting the economy in the wake of COVID-19 is more in agreement with what Brown has proposed than what county Republicans are requesting.
The White House's "Reopen America" plan requires states to reach several public health milestones before allowing non-essential businesses to reopen. One of those markers is when states have the "ability to quickly set up safe and efficient screening and testing sites for symptomatic individuals" and the ability to test people with influenza-like symptoms "for COVID and trace contacts of COVID." Testing limitations is also the focus of Brown's plan to reopen Oregon's economy announced last week. Brown said she won't reopen businesses and schools until the state's able to test 15,000 people per week. Currently, that number's around 8,000.
Brown applauded the White House's plan in a press release issued last week. “I am pleased to see the federal government’s guidance follows a data-driven, science-based approach, similar to Oregon’s framework," she wrote.
The county Republicans' resolution, meanwhile, appears to be more in-line with demands coming from far-right groups who've begun holding rallies at state capitols in opposition to strict COVID-19 orders. On Sunday, more than 2,000 protesters flocked Washington's capitol building in Olympia to oppose the state's regulations. Oregonians plan on holding a similar rally in Salem in early May. Public health experts have warned that these crowded rallies could lead to a surge in US coronavirus cases.
That's a risk the local GOP appears willing to take. "...the Governor has not allowed Oregon businesses and their customers to develop and implement their own common sense means of mitigating personal risk, and they should be given freedom to do so," the resolution reads.
Along with chairing the local GOP party, Buchal works as an attorney. He currently represents Joey Gibson, head of right-wing activist group Patriot Prayer, who faces both criminal and civil charges for his involvement in a May 1, 2019 street brawl. Gibson attended and spoke at Sunday's anti-government rally in Olympia.