Kids & Masks – McKinney Explains Health Board Vote
A little more drama from Yakima County's Health Board meeting. I say "drama"
because there seems to be two distinct perspectives that are in contradiction with each other, both jockeying to be the formal board position.
This is just my opinion from an outsider's point of view. (Our door and phone lines are open to any board member who wants to share their take on what's going on.) Commissioner Amanda McKinney has taken up our offer to talk about it and we encourage any of those on either side of the 4 to 3 vote to do the same.
From a layman's vantage I would say the two camps are 1.) those who are frustrated by the Governor's never ending tight fisted COVID controls and who aren't afraid to push back and seek to find other options for local influence and input based on concerns from an equally frustrated public and 2.) those who are either comfortable with the Governor's handling of the Pandemic or who at least feel they have no options but to accept Olympia's marching orders as presented. (If there are other nuances to be considered in the equation please share them at 508-972-5481.)
In an Yakima Herald Republic (YHR) article from May 26th, coverage of a Health Board meeting, the conversation about kids wearing masks was described as "tumultuous". "the Yakima Health District Board of Health recommended to the county’s Interim Health Officer Dr. Larry Jecha that masks not be worn by children — a change he said would not happen under his leadership....he said of mandates like masking that are passed down from the state level. “So you can send me something, but until you have a new health officer, it will stay as the state requirement.....Under state guidelines, masks are required of all individuals 2 and older who are not fully vaccinated."
Board members Yakima Mayor Patricia Byers, Dr. Dave Atteberry, and Commissioners LaDon Linde and Amanda McKinney voted in favor of lifting mask restrictions on kids. Commissioner Ron Anderson, Naila Duval and Dr. Sean Cleary voted against, but without action by the Health Officer nothing looks to be happening.
Just two days later on May 28, 2021 the New York Times Headlines read - The C.D.C. says unvaccinated children at U.S. camps can go without masks most of the time when they are outside. “For camps where everyone is fully vaccinated prior to the start of camp, it is safe to return to full capacity, without masking and without physical distancing...In camps where not everyone is fully vaccinated, mask recommendations for all have been relaxed for most outdoor activities, unless the setting is crowded and involves sustained close contact."
I called the Yakima Health District today 6/10/2021 to find out what guidelines were in play in our state as of now and I was told the state didn't have a mask guidance for kids at summer camp and it was up to each entity providing services to determine its own set of requirements. So what is the deal??? What can parents and kids expect for summer camps around Yakima?
The most recent contentious vote came Wednesday (6-9-21) when according to published reports, Toppenish City Councilmember Naila Duval made a motion to not allow future motions that contradicted and federal, state or local laws. Again the Board split -- on one side its the law is the law is the law --- and on the other side its we are searching for workable solutions and compromise to meet our local needs. The motion to prevent future motions was voted down 4-3 with Byers, Atteberry, Linde & McKinney again voting no in the majority.
The next meeting for the board is June 30. There are summer sports camps between now and then. What kid masks rules apply? Stay tuned.