Schoesler says regional plan hurts small Eastern Washington counties

By on Friday, February 5th, 2021 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

OLYMPIA – This week, the state of Idaho moved into Phase 3 of its COVID-19 recovery plan. State Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) said it’s time for neighboring Asotin County and others to move into Phase 2 of Washington’s recovery plan.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan divided the state into eight regions. Asotin County is in the East Region, with heavily-populated Spokane County along with Adams, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, and Whitman counties.

“I agree with the Asotin County commissioners that it’s ridiculous to include their county in the same region as Spokane County,” the lawmaker said. “If Asotin County was moved out of the East Region under the governor’s latest recovery plan, the county could move into Phase 2, which would be so much better for its people economically.”

Schoesler said that Inslee and Department of Health officials should view Clarkston and Asotin County more in connection with Lewiston and Nez Perce County instead of Spokane County.

“Clarkston and Lewiston are separated only by the Snake River, so you’d think Asotin County would be in the same COVID-19 recovery phase as Lewiston,” Schoesler said. “Unfortunately, our governor doesn’t see it that way.” Schoesler added that Whitman County, which also shares a border with Idaho, is at a similar economic disadvantage. “

He further agrees with Asotin County Public Health Administrator Brady Woodbury’s assertion that most of the smaller counties in the Eastern Region are on the verge of meeting the standards that would allow them to move up to Phase 2.