SALT LAKE CITY — One state Representative believes, “we are in the grip of a devastating self-made economic decline,” so he is drafting a bill to reopen the economy and stop the self-isolation of healthy people.
Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to discuss his 747-word Facebook rant and to get to the bottom of his frustration about government restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Government needs to admit that it overreacted and completely reopen Utah. Unfortunately, policy has been driven by media and panic. . . It’s time to stop letting panic and fear drive our policy,” said Ray in a Facebook post.
“We need to open Utah and allow people to make their own decisions. Encourage compromised individuals to isolate, but don’t bankrupt everyone else.”
‘Time to Reverse Course’
Ray said as a representative, he is dealing with constituents “who are dying on the vine” right now.
“There are businesses that will not reopen because of what happened. People can’t make rent. Putting food on the table right now is really hard for a lot of people,” Ray mentioned. “It’s time to reverse course a little bit and go in a different direction.”
“Let’s take care of the elderly and people with underlying conditions. But let’s get the healthy people back out to work,” Ray said.
Ray also said he’s drafting legislation to prohibit local health departments from “unilaterally” quarantining healthy people and closing down the economy. He said it’s time to stop closing businesses and putting undue regulations and restrictions on residents, according to the Deseret News.
Health Department vs. Legislature
“What gives the state Legislature the right, morally or otherwise, to take this out of the hands of local health departments when every health department has its own unique situation going on depending on where they’re at?” Debbie asked.
He said the Legislature has already given the health departments the right to quarantine people if they are sick.
From Ray’s Facebook post:
During my time as chairman for Health and Human Services, we dealt with the swine flu pandemic. I remember a discussion with the state and local health departments when it came to their ability to quarantine citizens. I was told by them that it would not be appropriate to quarantine any citizen who was not ill, that this power would be only used for people who tested positive for a pandemic disease. Thus, my frustration over the current COVID-19 shutdown.
Ray said right now one health official has the ability to shut down an entire county. He said that process should be more deliberative and involve, perhaps, the county commission or the city council.
“One thing we find in legislation is that the more voices involved, the better the outcome of the legislation is,” Ray said.
For the people who say “this has been blown out of proportion,” Dave pointed out that the COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. has gone from 11,000 four weeks ago to more than 73,000 today.
Ray claimed that an underlying condition accounted for “a lot of those deaths.”
From the representative’s Facebook post:
Deaths from the flu virus is only reported when the flu is the main cause of death. Most deaths due to underlying conditions, such as hypertension or diabetes, are attributed to the underlying condition, not the flu.
“They are big numbers [death tolls] but at the same time is it worth crashing a world economy? We have to balance that, and that’s the hard part of being in a leadership position as a governor or president,” Ray said.
Debbie said a lot of people would argue the opposite position: by staying home, the numbers haven’t jumped higher than they already are.
“There’s a lot to that, but at the same time . . . we can’t sustain staying home for six months or nine months,” Ray said. “It’s not going to work.
“There has to be a point where we say ‘OK, let’s reverse what we’re doing a little bit. Let’s keep the compromised individuals at home. But let’s get the healthy people back out. Let’s go to green. And let people make their choices on whether they want to go outside or not,” he said.
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