Protesters gather at county courthouse

The Kittitas County Business Coalition held a protest against statewide health orders in front of the county courthouse on May 1. At the core of the protest was the concern that businesses, particularly small, local businesses, are being treated unfairly under the recent restrictions.

“It’s actually part of our constitution. You’re innocent until proven guilty. We’ve already deemed these nonessential businesses as guilty,” Kittitas County Business Coalition cofounder Jessica Karraker said. “Guilty of spreading COVID-19, guilty that they wouldn’t take charge and to protect their families and their customers and our clients.”

According to Kittitas County Commissioner Laura Osiadacz, much of the frustration came from inconsistencies in Gov. Jay Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Osiadacz said these inconsistencies prevented certain sectors from continuing to work even if they could implement appropriate COVID-19 prevention measures.

“I do agree that there’s a lot of things that we could continue to do while practicing our social distancing and having a safe workplace utilizing the guidelines for COVID-19,” Osiadacz said. “But people really haven’t had the opportunity to demonstrate that they’re capable of doing so.”

The meeting concluded with a call from Karraker to pressure the Board of County Commissioners for Eastern Washington into opposing Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.  

“Ideally, we need twenty counties to stand up and to say that we’re no longer in an emergency,” Karraker said, addressing the crowd.