Dan Newhouse

Congressman Dan Newhouse

For months, activists and bureaucrats alike have told the American people to “believe in science” – to take the pandemic seriously, to practice social distancing and handwashing, and to wear masks and get vaccinated. I have consistently called for these same things, and thanks to the remarkable efforts of private industry and government regulators through Operation Warp Speed, we are fortunate that Washington State has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country, with 57.3% of the population fully vaccinated, exceeding the national average of 49.8%.

That’s good news because the science shows that vaccines are working – even against the Delta variant. In fact, A CDC report from July 27 states that “available evidence suggests that the COVID-19 vaccines presently authorized in the United States offer protection against known emerging variants, including the Delta variant.”

It’s worth noting that same report includes language suggesting that some vaccines do not protect against the Delta variant. That information is based on studies conducted in India, with vaccines “not authorized for use in the United States.”

It’s puzzling that Governor Inslee, who has touted scientific evidence as the basis for his months of unilateral shutdowns and mandates, would disregard this report and mandate mask wear for teachers and students for a school year that is still weeks away from beginning, and recommend masks indoors for all Washingtonians – regardless of whether they have been vaccinated.

I’ve heard from countless parents who are particularly frustrated by this decision, not only because children are at a decreased risk of contracting COVID-19, but also because they have already experienced a year and a half of devastating losses in learning and suffered critical effects on their mental and emotional heath. Our families and students deserve better.

Additionally, this move by the Governor undermines public trust in the efficacy of the vaccine. Washingtonians were told that if we wanted to open up, we needed to mask up and get vaccinated. We did. Now, as he has done endlessly throughout this pandemic, the Governor is moving the goal posts again.

Despite the depictions by some that vaccine-hesitant folks are crazy or selfish, it’s not crazy to wonder what the value of getting the vaccine is if it doesn’t protect against the virus or if it’s not going to improve day-to-day life. That’s what was promised by politicians who promoted the vaccine, that’s what was expected by Americans who received the vaccine, and that’s a conclusion that the available evidence supports. Those who are now undermining the public’s belief that the vaccine works, as Governor Inslee is, are doing a disservice to our communities and ensuring that vulnerable populations will continue to be at a heightened risk of infection.

If the Governor truly wants to prevent the spread of this virus, he should stop backtracking on the progress we’ve made and discouraging hesitant Washingtonians from protecting themselves against COVID-19 by removing all incentives to do so.

I continue to urge all Washingtonians to consult with their primary care provider about the best options for them, and I encourage all those that can get vaccinated to do so as soon as possible.

Getting vaccinated should not be political – but making it political is exactly what the Governor has done. I call on him to rescind this unnecessary mandate, reassess his reckless approach to managing this virus, and believe in science.

Congressman Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside serves the 4th Congressional District in Washington, D.C

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