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News / Northwest

Majority of Cowlitz County Board of Health says COVID mandates, vaccines don’t work

By Minka Atkinson, The Daily News
Published: December 27, 2023, 2:19pm

LONGVIEW — After several months of debate, the Cowlitz County Board of Health has passed a “medical freedom resolution,” partly to prevent the government from imposing one-sided health mandates. The majority of the board says COVID-19 mandates harmed the public and COVID vaccines do not work, despite state and national health organizations studies stating otherwise.

The resolution passed 4-3 last month, with board members Mary Jane Melink, Alyssa Fine and Dennis Weber opposed. The measure was written by board chairman Kelly Lane, but has changed since it was first proposed in September.

The passed resolution states:

  • the county shall not force individuals to accept medical intervention or to “put something ‘onto’ or ‘into’ (their) body without informed consent.”
  • public health emergencies will not be unilaterally imposed.
  • citizens have the right to make personal decisions about vaccines and masks.

The resolution would not have any legal impact on the county, but is intended as a statement affirming residents’ freedom of choice, Lane said. It does not prevent individuals from choosing to follow expert advice, and private businesses can continue to require patrons to wear masks or follow other safety guidelines.

Fine, Cowlitz Indian Tribe Wellness and Diabetes Program coordinator, said at the Nov. 21 meeting the government already makes other health and safety requirements today.

“The whole idea and concept of protecting the health of our community is that sometimes our personal freedoms get limited to protect those around us,” she said. “That happens in mandating washing hands by restaurant employees. It happens by mandating seat belts being worn.”

Melink, the director of Longview-based The Health Care Foundation, said she did not feel comfortable supporting a resolution that included inaccurate information such as the section on COVID-19-related death rates.

The resolution states public health mandates related to COVID-19 caused more harm than they prevented, and death counts in the U.S. “remained steady before, during, and after all phases of the ‘pandemic.’”

However, a county health report shows an 18% increase in Cowlitz County’s overall death rate in 2021, and the Center for Disease Control reports a 16.8% increase nationwide in 2020, which it calls the largest single-year increase since annual mortality data for the country became available.

Peggy Malone, president of the Community Health Partners Board of Directors, read on Nov. 21 a statement from the board opposing the mandate and saying the board of health was neglecting its duty of care to its constituents by not considering vulnerable members of society.

One repeatedly presented argument in favor of the resolution was that the vaccine is ineffective at preventing COVID-19 transmission and may even lead to more serious cases.

A report by the Washington State Department of Health based on data from November found that unvaccinated individuals are between 1.6 and 7.2 times more likely to be hospitalized and between 1.8 and 3.9 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than people who have received at least one booster dose of the vaccine.

Trish Huddleston — a Woodland School Board member who wrote a similar resolution for her district which has not yet come to a vote — praised the passing of the county measure in a letter to The Daily News. Huddleston also said the vaccine is ineffective and that officials like politicians and CDC employees forced people to be vaccinated, while the officials could choose.

“We should all be grateful that our Board of Health members still believe in personal autonomy and passed the Medical Freedom Resolution,” she wrote. “While some choose to ignore how the government destroyed our kids’ childhoods and education, crushed our economy, and divided communities, I will never.”