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We are all essential! I don’t need an executive order from any governor or state public health official to recognize my ability or anyone else’s to assist in helping others during this pandemic crisis.

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Social distancing rules are the present-day reality in which we all live — from the lower valley to the west side, assimilating to the Stay Home order by only going out for essential groceries at the Safeway or Walmart.

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Phlebotomists in the front lines of this virus are paid minimum wage to risk their health and their family’s health when they go home, it is not right. We need to thank or acknowledge these people. It’s just not ok for companies to take advantage of these employees.

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I’ve been watching in horror at the empty grocery store aisles during the past couple of weeks, as our state — the so-called epicenter of COVID-19 — has gone from a very chill place to live to the nucleus of panicked over shoppers.

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In the United States and in Washington, we are fortunate to have an abundance of agriculture. We are even more fortunate to have the hard-working men and women who work to keep food on our tables. Keeping our food supply chain stable – especially in times of crisis or distress – is critical to ensuring the health and safety of all Americans.

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For generations, farmers and ranchers in Central Washington have understood that in order to continue their important job of feeding the world, we must work together to conserve one of our most precious assets: our land. Much of the land is rich with fertile soil, making it one of the most diverse and productive agricultural regions in the country, but our producers also understand that it is also rich with wildlife and natural resources that are worth protecting.

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Instead of obsessing over how many rolls of toilet paper we need to have on hand to carry out normal bathroom operations or compulsive impulse shopping at the grocery store, our immediate focus should be clearly on slowing down the spread of the COVID-19 disease and conducting social distancing.

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The COVID-19 virus is one of those problems that should cause elected officials to put aside their partisan differences and work for the common good. I’m proud to say that’s precisely what is happening in Washington state.

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There have been nine confirmed deaths by coronavirus in Washington state alone. I believe in order to contain the spread of the virus throughout our nation is to place strict regulation to places of social gathering like clubs, bars, events, transportation, businesses, hospitals, schools and religion institutions.

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