House Republican Leader Christine Drazan is continuing to push the issue of Clackamas County being “shackled” to its much larger and more Covid-impacted neighbors for phase 2 reopening, she told Canby Area Chamber Director Kyle Lang during a virtual “luncheon” Tuesday.
“Lord have mercy, I want us to be unshackled,” the first-term state representative from Canby said with a laugh, in answer to a submitted question from a chamber member, adding that she brings the matter up to Governor Kate Brown “every time we talk.”
“There is no basis for Clackamas County to be tied to Multnomah County based on the data,” Drazan said. “The data does not say that we are equivalent for how our communities are managing Covid right now.”
Home to the city of Portland, Multnomah has double the population of Clackamas, and has seen more than three times as many confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, and more than twice as many deaths, according to the latest data.
Washington County also has more residents and cases than Clackamas, but fewer than Multnomah. Elected and business leaders from both counties have begged the governor to decouple them from Multnomah County, and both have been denied.
Clackamas County leaders have also decried Brown’s decision to funnel nearly $250 million in federal coronavirus funding to Multnomah, Washington and the city of Portland, while denying their own, comparatively modest, request of $45 million — and Rep. Drazan echoed these complaints Tuesday.
“We are tied to two jurisdictions that are able to manage Covid independent of the state because they have their own resources,” Drazan said. “Clackamas County doesn’t. Clackamas County has to spend their own money outright directly, then request reimbursement and hope that it was eligible.”
The disparity has a real impact on businesses and working families in each county, Drazan said. Where Multnomah and Washington County can offer grants and other support to businesses “hobbled” by the phase 1 coronavirus restrictions — Clackamas County cannot.
“It’s just a very different position to be in,” she said. “And the numbers and the data don’t justify tying us to the metro area, specifically Multnomah County.”
The rest of the state, for the most part, operates on a county-by-county basis. And in some cases, counties have been allowed to progress to the governor’s second phase of reopening despite having more cases and deaths — with smaller populations — than Clackamas.
“I keep encouraging her to reconsider,” Drazan said of the governor. “So far, no bueno. No luck. We will keep trying, though. I will not give up.”
See the full broadcast of Tuesday’s event below, courtesy the chamber and CTV Channel 5: