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OHA Report on COVID Sought
The final report would answer whether the state’s response to the virus was effective

A bill directing OHA to select a private consultant to evaluate Oregon’s public health response to the COVID-19 epidemic is moving. SB 1554 passed the Oregon Senate 17 to 9 on a straight party-line vote Feb. 28th. Four Senators were excused from voting, three Republicans and one Democrat. Senators Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Portland) and Dennis Linthicum R-Klamath Falls took views as divergent as the urban/rural divide they represent concerning SB 1554. Senator Steiner Hayward’s views are expressed in the After Action Report she co-authored.

The After Action Report would investigate the COVID-19 response across several levels of engagement to identify areas for improvement, make recommendations, and capture key lessons learned. Critics are concerned that the report may be used to justify controls on the freedom of citizens in future declared emergencies. SB 1554 includes a General Fund appropriation of $899,573. The final report is to be submitted no later than September 1, 2023.

Oregon has the least popular Governor in the nation for many reasons. Among those are the arbitrary closing of many businesses plus severe mask and vaccination mandates implemented by OHA under her direction in response to the COVID pandemic. A consultant selected by OHA under the Governor’s direction could interpret history in technical terms favorable to the Governor. This is an election year and Democrats fear the worst based on early polling. A report on the Kate Brown administration’s response would be too late technically to affect the November 2022 general election, but it would be a convenient way to deflect criticism of shutdowns and mandates during campaign season.

Steiner Hayward reasons we need this study to know how we could save lives in future emergencies. Her focus is on evaluating how the various agencies made use of their funds, coordination between various government departments, equity in outcomes and public-private partnership effectiveness.

Senator Dennis Linthicum (R-Klamath Falls) thinks a study could be useful but sees this bill as one seeking answers to the wrong questions. He questions the value in quantifying government’s role without qualifying the impact it had on those tens of thousands hurt by shutdowns and mandates that adversely affected businesses and schools.

The survey would require input from state and local agencies, hospitals and medical providers, businesses, schools and individuals. Concerns arise over the objectivity in reports from individuals and organizations dependent on public funding for their livelihoods.

The final report would seek to answer whether or not the state’s response to the virus was effective. OHA reports nearly 700,000 people contracted the disease, more than 27,000 were hospitalized and 6,582 died, reportedly all due to COVID-19 and not underlying conditions.



Defenders of the OHA response point out that Oregon fared better Than Oklahoma and Kentucky, two states of similar size. Compared to those states, Oregon’s number of cases and deaths are nearly half. How Oregon compared to those states in mental health outcomes is not mentioned.

The post-pandemic era is upon us. A study of the wide variety of actions and outcomes taken by many different countries on six continents could be a useful tool in directing future responses to virus outbreaks. Sweden allowed citizens the freedom to act responsibly without controls. Australia mandated citizens stay in their homes and followed up with strict enforcement. Poor nations didn’t vaccinated because of cost and many achieved enviable results using affordable therapies banned in many developed countries including the U.S. Deaths and injuries to all age groups brought about by vaccines gets sparse attention by the legacy media. The actions of the FDA and CDC were questioned in Congressional hearings. Agency transparency remain a major concern by many in Congress.

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2022-03-02 11:45:57Last Update: 2022-03-02 12:03:24

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