City Hall Mask

A sign outside of Hermiston’s temporary city hall advises people to wear a mask on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020.

Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan made probably the best point lately when it comes to the ongoing controversy regarding Gov. Kate Brown’s mask and vaccination mandates.

Rowan made it clear his office doesn’t have the statutory authority to enforce any kind of mandate, but made the point that the expectation for the mandates was not to enforce them, but to educate people about them.

Rowan is on the right track in two ways. First, he seemed unwilling to step into what is becoming a political quagmire regarding Gov. Kate Brown’s recent edicts. That’s a smart decision. That’s because the governor doesn’t seem to have any intention of backing off her decisions to create the new mandates. In due course the issue will probably end up in the courts, which will create a lengthy process with no clear end in sight.

Secondly, Rowan is right that law enforcement — if it is to do anything — should be a platform for education. The job of providing information to citizens is a crucial one, especially now that a lot of the data available is either bogus or slanted.

We believe the choice to get vaccinated is an individual one, a decision between an individual and their health care provider.

However, it is a growing concern that information on the vaccines is fragmented and often twisted to fit an agenda.

Residents should be encouraged to gather all of the information they possibly can and then discuss their views with their health care provider. Then, and only then, should they make a judgement about whether they are comfortable with the vaccine.

It seems relatively simple, but an overload of bad information is clouding what should be a routine decision by any resident.

Law enforcement should be involved in the vaccine drama only in an educational way. Let’s face it, there are far more pressing problems local police and sheriff’s deputies need to address rather than enforcing a mask mandate. Of course, the governor has not ordered any law enforcement agency that we know of to enforce any kind of mandate, and that is a good thing.

Providing a way to get information — unbiased information — to residents is a good plan and we hope that the sheriff follows through on his words.

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