To the editor:
In the April 4 edition of the Topeka Capital-Journal, County Commissioner Vicky Kaaz attacked my call (from March 27 in the Leavenworth Times) for elected leaders to uphold their responsibility to us, provide oversight to unelected public health officials and weigh their recommendations against the violence that advice might do to our liberties or our economy.
I wrote that letter after the Leavenworth Board of County Commissioners, without allowing public comment, voted to turn all public health decisions over to County Public Health Officer Jamie Miller, not a doctor but a career EMT.
I acknowledge that the coronavirus is a serious public health threat and that we need to take it seriously. As of this writing, one of our neighbors has already died. People need to take common sense precautions like washing their hands, avoiding large crowds, staying home if they don’t need anything and when they are sick. If someone is in one of the groups at higher risk of serious illness or death from the coronavirus, they need to be extra careful.
But the developments since I wrote my letter to the editor have only deepened my conviction that elected leaders have a responsibility to provide oversight to public health officials. Since I wrote that letter to the editor …
1. Public health officials at the state and county level have started picking economic winners and losers, closing businesses they arbitrarily decided were not “essential.” More than 55,000 Kansans have since filed for unemployment.
2. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is tracking our compliance with their edicts using the GPS on our cell phones.
3. The Kelly administration decided that abortions were an “essential medical service.”
I have spent the last two weeks since I wrote that letter to the editor working with Coronavirus Relief, collecting donations and distributing them to people put out of work by this emergency. I didn’t see Commissioner Kaaz there. I encourage her to come out next Thursday, when we are handing out supplies to families whose lives have been devastated by this economic shutdown, and explain to them why it’s not her job to be their voice and weigh their desperate situations against the measures that unelected public health officials want to put in place to combat this virus.