SVSJ commentary: For the benefit of young athletes in Washington and their families, Governor Inslee, it’s time to fully reopen this state, with safety restrictions. Now.

Data and science. Data and science. Those two words have become buzzwords in the current COVID-19 disease fight here in Washington state, with Gov. Jay Inslee using those two words to continue justifying the current stay-at-home order and resulting shutdowns of most businesses in the state, including youth athletics. These same buzzwords are being used all over the country by governors in continuing to justify their current stay at home orders. But as you know from our report on Wednesday, and additional stories about this topic on TV both here in our state and in Colorado, youth sports is beginning to feel real harm, harm which may be permanent. It is with that that we call on governors all over this country, including our governor here in Washington, to open things up. Do so safely, but it’s time to get kids back on the fields and on the courts.

As we discussed here on Wednesday, the continuing lockdowns are causing strain for high school sports teams all over Washington, including Mount Si and Cedarcrest High Schools. Teams are out thousands of dollars of critical revenue as a result of canceled camps and other events this summer. We just heard last night from CHS’ girls’ soccer program that their camp, and the other Cedarcrest sports camps for this summer, has been canceled, and they are now out around $5,000, a significant chunk of their overall program budget for the year. And it’s not just high school sports feeling the pinch either – choir, band, drama, FFA and other extracurricular clubs at high schools in our state are also being hurt by not being able to raise money with fundraisers during this pandemic. In all, these revenue losses could, and likely will, cost students this fall, in the form of them not getting the best available equipment, uniforms, outside opportunities in order to succeed.

And it’s not just inside high schools, either. Club level sports are being hurt, too. Case in point, the Emerald City Gymnastics facility in Redmond, a facility which has seen many a Kingco 4A and 3A athlete get their start in this sport, is concerned about its future, as are other gyms of its type around our region. Check out this story from KCPQ’s Aaron Levine. And yet, does this governor do anything about it? No.

And families of athletes are being hurt, too. Chances are virtually every athletic program at Mount Si or Cedarcrest High School has at least one, maybe more, athletes whose mom or dad or both have lost their job as a result of this pandemic and resulting closures. Many thousands of people have filed for unemployment in our state and there are now stories surfacing of people still waiting for their benefits. And on top of this, the state’s Employment Security Department is now facing major fraud in the system, and among its victims are local educators in the Snoqualmie Valley School District. See here from KING’s Natalie Swaby. And yet, does this governor do anything about it, like perhaps fire the agency’s chief, Suzi Levine (no relation to Aaron mentioned above)? No.

Instead, this governor is implementing rules regarding contact tracing that have met with significant pushback from many, including the ACLU, and is going on TV or webcasts tooting his own horn to friendly media types and their equally as friendly audiences. This controversy you may have heard about surrounding comments he made on a Bernie Sanders-associated podcast late last week only has amplified a lot of that frustration from many on the right who want to see a more rapid reopening of the state. That frustration has resulted in now five lawsuits, with the newest one set to get a hearing tomorrow over in Whitman County, in eastern Washington. And if this governor continues to slow-walk the state’s current reopening to the degree he is slow-walking it it seems, he’s likely to face more legal battles.

But it’s not just here there’s concern. There’s also concern in Colorado – about whether kids will have a fall high school sports season. See this story from KMGH in Denver. And these are just a few of we think many examples of this all over the country. Sports in a lot of states hasn’t fully reopened yet, and in some, may not reopen at all until perhaps this winter – we’re looking at you Gov. Gavin Newsom in California.

And for what? We checked the current data our state has on its Coronavirus website. Washington state has a confirmed total of just over 18,000 cases and 1,000 deaths with a positive test rating of 6.5% on almost 281,000 tests done thus far. Of those, just five percent – or maybe at most several hundred – kids under age 19 are confirmed cases, with none of those people passing away as a result of the virus. The age groups most at risk here are senior citizens over 60, which, while they only have 30% of the total cases, are resulting in over 80% of the total deaths. We suspect that is also the case elsewhere, too.

Now, granted, the primary concern has been, and remains, so-called asymptomatic spread, that is where people who don’t know they have the virus but do, spread germs through the air by coughing, sneezing or even talking or breathing, and it catches other people who then get sick. Well, we have news for the governor and his health team: The way you deal with that problem is, well, you don’t. Have you all heard the term cross that bridge when you get there? Masks and face coverings can help, of course, but there seems to be a hard and fast belief among a lot of people it would seem that support the governor and his approach that it’s “vaccine or bust.”

Meaning that in their view, life can not return to normal until there’s a vaccine. That simply is not realistic or acceptable. We do believe there will be a vaccine, and we also believe that it will be here before the end of the year. With as many groups researching various vaccines’ potential and with as much money as is being spent on this overall endeavor, we can’t see this failing at all. That all said, the public must begin to live with the idea this is around, and accept the risks associated with it. Meaning that it’s time to get back to work, to get back on the field, to get back in the classroom. Practice safe social distancing. Use masks, hand sanitizer and other means to help mitigate your risk.

But, Governor Inslee, you and your ilk do not seem to care about the many kids and their parents whose livelihoods, whose dreams, whose futures this pandemic and your resulting response to it have been destroyed or dashed. All you folks seem to care about is this: completely eradicating this virus at all costs. And that is not realistic. Kids need to be out doing what they love to do, whether that’s sports, play music, act, a whole host of many different things. Parents need to be out working and chasing their pursuits and dreams, all the while practicing their craft safely and to the benefit of others.

It’s time, Governor, for this state to re-open fully, with restrictions, yes, but let’s get things back to work. Now.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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