‘It’d be disastrous for me,’ Phoenix woman with cancer pleads for mask compliance

PHOENIX, Ore. —Governor Kate Brown issued an indoor mask requirement earlier this month. But some Rogue Valley residents say despite this, it’s still not being enforced in many businesses.

“It’d be disastrous for me,” said Phoenix resident, Ramona Saltzer.

That’s what not wearing a mask in public could mean for Saltzer. The 83-year-old has been living in the Rogue Valley for the last 5 years. She spends most of the day taking care of her garden and spending time with her grandchildren.

“Try having an underlying condition or maybe you come down with Covid and you end up in the hospital I don’t want that,” said Saltzer.

Saltzer was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago. When Covid hit, she became extra cautious of her situation. She takes medicine daily because of her condition, she masks when she leaves the house, and limits her gatherings to protect herself.

“It’s such an easy thing to have a mask and put it on when you go out in public, you’re not just protecting yourself your protecting other people around you,” said Saltzer.

This week she went grocery shopping at Rays Food Place in Phoenix. She says the employees were masked but she saw multiple people maskless, despite Governor Brown’s statewide mandate.

“I felt threatened for one thing, and I really wanted to come out and say why don’t you have people have a mask on, and of course you doublethink and don’t do it, it’s just get done with what you’re doing, get out and don’t come back and I won’t come back,” said Saltzer.

As for law enforcement, the Phoenix Police Department says it’s not actively enforcing the mask mandate. It says its job is to educate and inform the public, but won’t get involved. It suggests for those concerned to report it with state regulatory agencies, like the Occupation Safety and Health Administration.

Other law enforcement agencies are echoing the same idea.

“We have never really been expected to enforce the governor’s orders even during lockdown phase it was always referred to regulatory agencies of the state,” said Medford Police Chief, Scott Clauson.

Chief Clauson says he’s not for or against the mandate, but won’t be enforcing it.

“We’re not going to go out of our way to seek those people out, we do have other crimes that we need to get to and respond to and investigate, and that will be our focus,” said Chief Clauson.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Josephine County Sheriffs Office, and Lake County Sheriff’s office are all on the same page. This comes a day after Douglas County Sheriff, John Hanlin released a statement.

In part, it says: “The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office will not be enforcing Governor Brown’s mandates period. It’s up to each of us as individuals to stay informed and make our own responsible decisions about our health,” said Hanlin.

But for people like Ramona, this decision could be a game-changer.

“With what I’ve seen and heard about how it hits your lungs, I mean I’d be dead let’s face it,” said Saltzer.

Her message to those who chose not to wear the mask, “think about yourself and your loved ones if you want to see your daughter or your wife or your mother laying in a hospital bed and you can’t be near them,” said Saltzer.

NBC5 News Reporter Jenna King is a Burbank native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at the U of O, she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through interning with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors, or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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