The COVID pandemic has been challenging for all Oregonians in the last two years and much has been learned and changed since it started. However, many of Governor Brown’s COVID mandates and administrative rules from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) disproportionately impact lower-income households, small businesses, children, communities of color, rural communities and our most vulnerable populations.

These misguided policies have had real-life consequences, especially for children and young people who are statistically unlikely to have an adverse health outcome related to the virus. It is time to get back to normal and let people live their lives. People must know the endpoint and metrics informing policy decisions, which OHA and Brown have failed in clearly communicating and rationalizing.

These policies have caused our neighbors to lose their businesses due to the forced government shutdowns and inflexible and burdensome regulations. Many other businesses grapple with the reality that another shutdown or mandate is inevitable.

Brown and the state bureaucrats continue to ignore the immense harm these mandates have caused, and the cost is not justified. Even now, Brown and her bureaucrats are doubling down and moving forward with a vaccine passport system and are beginning to make temporary indoor mask mandates permanent. This is being done, even though such policies are outliers throughout the country and do not mirror COVID policies in many peer nations.

As a registered nurse on the frontlines with a graduate-level education in nursing on health policy, I bring experience and credibility when addressing COVID health policy issues. Moreover, nurses have a unique ability to provide leadership in creating health policies that improve patient health outcomes, reduce the spread of the virus and reflect a holistic and caring approach.

Morally, the goal or desired outcome must never be about power or increasing the government’s control in your everyday lives. To achieve these goals and prevent dangerous power grabs, it is paramount that we always respect the right of self-determination in every patient, regardless of whether we agree with their personal medical decision.

Every person has inherent dignity and worth and has the right to make informed decisions about their medical care. Healthcare is best when a trusting and honest relationship is developed between a provider and a patient, not a patient and a bureaucrat.

At this point, it is time to acknowledge we’re at a point in the COVID pandemic where we must move from kneejerk policies instead to strategies that recognize COVID is at an endemic stage. We need strategies that allow people to move forward with their lives, particularly our students, teachers, and frontline workers whose lives have been upheaval since March 2020. 

Fortunately, nearly two years into this pandemic, we now have effective therapeutic treatments beyond vaccinations. We’re moving in the right direction, but we cannot rely on antiquated interventions and ineffective mandates. There are better policy conclusions to reach that are not harshly punitive to our most vulnerable populations, small businesses, and exhausted frontline professionals.