Former and current Jackson Co. leaders call on Commissioners to take ‘more active leadership role’ amid covid crisis

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore — A bipartisan group of former and current Jackson County leaders have sent a letter to the Commissioner’s office to address the coronavirus crisis in the County.

Commissioners, Rick Dyer, Colleen Roberts and Dave Dotterrer were previously called out in an Oregonian OP-ED over their response to the pandemic.

RELATED: ‘Oregonian’ Editorial Board calls out JaCo Commissioners’ COVID response

The letter, included below, was signed by 12 former and current leaders including Al Densmore, Bob Strosser, Gary Wheeler, and current Medford city council member Kevin Stine.

The individuals stated they have not heard much from the Commissioners office throughout the pandemic. Densmore says he’s thankful for their response during certain situations within the past year like coordinating the vaccination clinic at the Expo.  

However, Densmore says the Commissioners need to speak out and take action amid the spike in recent coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

“In the medical community, we reached an extraordinary dangerous level,” Former State Representative Al Densmore told NBC5. “We’re just thinking that the community need to mobilize in major ways and our elected leaders need to help lead us there.” 

A copy of the letter was obtained by NBC5 below:

Our county is in the midst of a medical crisis.

 

As the Delta variant sweeps through all of our communities, our hospitals are being overrun with very sick patients, with needed surgeries and care put on hold.

 

New inpatients who can no longer be placed in hospital rooms are crammed into hallways and ER exam rooms. Medical staff are burning out. A scenario that is often seen in the developing world is now playing out in the Rogue Valley.

 

Our County Administration and staff have responded admirably to the challenges, quickly assuming new roles as needed, coordinating mass vaccination clinics at the county Expo, and asking state agencies to provide needed extra resources. Many personnel have gone weeks with no days off.

 

Yet throughout the pandemic, we have not heard much from our County Commissioners. We have not heard strong and unequivocal support for basic health measures such as social distancing or mask wearing.  We have not heard any strong advocacy for vaccinations.

 

As a result, many of our citizens still feel that all is well. Britt has had concerts where masking was “recommended” but followed by few. Few masks could be seen at our recent County Fair.

 

Vaccination clinics have either reduced hours or closed down because of a lack of demand.

 

We risk businesses closing when their already overworked staff, many unvaccinated, become sick or are placed in quarantine from Covid-19 exposure. We risk future closure of schools when unvaccinated staff or children over 12 become sick, or when younger children become sick from unvaccinated relatives. We risk depleting our medical staffs when burn out causes early retirement, or the seeking of other employment in safer non medical environments.

 

Disaster can still be averted, although we are running out of time.

 

We are former and currently elected public officials, Republican, Independent,  and Democrat, who strongly urge the present County Commissioners to take a more active leadership role in conquering Covid-19. Speak strongly and frequently to your constituents about the usefulness of Public Health measures, such as masking. Encourage all the unvaccinated to get their shots, so that they and their family members, friends and fellow workers do not end up on unattended gurneys in hospital hallways or suffer a premature death.

We elected you, our County Commissioners, to oversee our health and well being.. Now is the time for you to step forward and provide the leadership that we need.

Sincerely,

Al Densmore, Former State Representative , Medford Mayor and Council member

Bob Strosser, Dave Gilmour, M.D., Sue Kupillas, Peter Sage, Tam Moore. Former County Commissioners,

Gary Wheeler, Lindsey Berryman, Former Medford Mayors.

Darby Ayers-Flood, Talent Mayor

Bill Walton, Former Central Point Mayor

Jim Lewis, Former Jacksonville Mayor

Cathy Shaw,Former Ashland Mayor

Sarah Spansail, Kevin Stine, Medford City Council.

Tonya Graham, Ashland City Council

Neil Olsen, `M.D.,Central Point City Council

Mike McClain, Jacksonville City Council

Eleanor Ponomareff, Ana Byers, Derek Volkart, Jason Clark,  Talent City Council

We have reached out to the Commissioner’s office for comment and are waiting to hear back.

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Anthony Carter
Anthony Carter is a reporter for NBC5 News. He grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and graduated from Elizabethtown College in 2019. Anthony started his career as a print journalist, covering New York sports and the NBA Draft. He then started his own sports podcast and website covering the Arena Football League. Anthony moved to the Rogue Valley in 2019 as a news producer before joining the NBC5 News family. Anthony likes to workout at the gym, play basketball, and root for his Atlanta Hawks and New York Jets. Want to connect with Anthony? send him an email: [email protected]
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