Pike bashes statewide mask mandate

Former state legislator from Camas says she won't follow 'mad man dictator' governor's order, gets support from Camas City Council member

Liz Pike, a former Camas city councilwoman and three-term state legislator, has come out against Washington Governor Jay Inslee's statewide mask mandate meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 and tamp down rising cases of the coronavirus statewide, including in Clark County, which recorded its highest-ever daily increase in new cases this week. (Contributed photo courtesy of Liz Pike)

Camas City Councilwoman Shannon Roberts (center) leaves a December 2019 council meeting. Roberts recently said she is concerned about health impacts of wearing masks in the fight against COVID-19, and showed support for former state legislator Liz Pike's recent stance against Washington Governor Jay Inslee's statewide mask mandate. In a Facebook post that has garnered more than 400 "likes," Pike said she would not wear a mask and would not give her money to businesses that made her wear one. Under Inslee's order, the majority of people are required to wear face coverings when inside public spaces such as retail shops, churches and lobbies, as well as outdoors where social distancing of six feet cannot be maintained. (Post-Record file photo)

Liz Pike, a three-term state legislator from Camas, is racking up hundreds of “likes” on a recent Facebook post stating she will not comply with Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s new mask mandate meant to stem the spread of COVID-19.
“The face coverings may be a good idea for vulnerable people, but this is the last straw for me,” Pike wrote in the June 23 Facebook post. “We no longer have a Governor, we have a mad man dictator. His one size fits all is complete bull crap. I won’t comply with his new mask rule.”
Inslee announced the mask mandate the same day Pike — who served on the Camas City Council in the early 2000s and was a Republican member of the Washington House of Representatives from 2013 to 2019 — published the post.
The governor said his order, which requires Washington residents to wear face coverings inside all public indoor spaces and in outdoor areas where physical-distancing of at least six feet cannot be maintained, was a response to rising COVID-19 cases throughout the state and the potential for those new coronavirus cases to overwhelm local health care systems.
“As necessary economic activity increases and more people are out in their communities, it is imperative that we adopt further measures to protect all of us,” Inslee said during a press conference held June 23. “Until a vaccine or cure is developed, this is going to be one of our best defenses.”
Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman added that “the science is clear that when we use face coverings, we limit the spread of droplets being passed on to others when we talk, cough or sneeze.”
“While some of us are wearing face coverings in public, we must increase usage to best control the virus. Washington’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if, together, we act safely and follow health recommendations,” Wiesman said.
The order went into effect on Friday, June 26. Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and/or jail time, but many local law enforcement agencies in the state have stated they don’t have the resources to truly enforce the order.
Pike, who announced her retirement from prominent political life in January 2018, saying then that she wanted to spend more time with family and friends, is a local painter who regularly shows her work at the Camas Gallery. She also owns and operates the organic Shangri-La Farm in Fern Prairie. Pike recently jumped back into local politics as a candidate for the Clark County Charter Review Commission (see related story on page A1 of today’s Post-Record).
In her public Facebook post, which had garnered nearly 460 “likes” and “loves,” received 340 comments and been shared 122 times as of Monday, June 29, Pike said she will avoid businesses that require face coverings.
“If a company denies me entry,” Pike stated in her post, “I won’t be spending my money there. Pretty simple.”
Many members of the Camas-Washougal community — including the owner of the Washougal gun shop, Limitless America and a Camas City Council member — “liked” Pike’s post.
“LIMITLESS AMERICA will never comply to communist/marxist tyrants,” wrote the Washougal business’ owner, Eric Hargrave, in a comment on Pike’s post. “We will never require facemasks at our business location.”
Camas City Councilwoman Shannon Roberts liked Pike’s post and also joined in the comments.
“Ask yourself why the preeminent authority said NOT to wear masks? Get a doctor off to the side and talk to him about it,” Roberts wrote under a comment pointing out that health professionals regularly wear masks and asking why people shouldn’t wear masks to protect each other from COVID-19.
Later, Roberts questioned a commenter who said they wear masks everywhere they go and “everyone is pretty much OK with it because (they) are protecting (themselves) and others” during a time when the coronavirus is “making a comeback.”
“Again I would ask where are you getting your data that ‘everyone’s ok with it’?” Roberts commented.
Contacted by the Post-Record, Roberts said she believes there is “a better way to handle the mandate of wearing masks.”
“We should be looking at each county individually, just as the governor did for deciding which counties could move from phase to phase,” Roberts said. “Then the public should be allowed to live their lives and perform their own diligence in the pros and cons of wearing masks.”
Roberts added that she believes cloth masks pose health risks for many wearers.
“Cloth masks don’t allow the carbon dioxide to escape the mask before you take another breath,” Roberts said. “Eight to 12 hours of breathing in carbon dioxide day in and day out is not good for the brain or body.”
The United States Centers for Disease Control updated its guidelines on wearing cloth face coverings this week. The new guidelines recommend that people wear cloth masks in public settings and when they are around anyone who does not live in their household.
“Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings,” the CDC states on its page devoted to cloth mask guidance. “This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows cloth face covering reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.”
The CDC says cloth masks should not be worn by “children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”
COVID-19 cases have continued to rise across the nation as states lift “stay at home” orders and reopen businesses and public areas.
On Wednesday, Clark County Public Health officials reported 40 new cases – the highest number of cases reported in a single day in Clark County since the pandemic began.
Some states that reopened before cases started to decline, including Texas and Florida, have had to re-close certain businesses and public areas due to increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
Over Saturday, Gov. Inslee said he would halt Washington counties from moving into the final reopening phase because the pandemic was showing signs of accelerating throughout the state.
Clark County health officials this week urged residents to stay home for the Fourth of July holiday to help prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Pike responded to the Post-Record on Monday and said she is not convinced that face coverings do any good in the fight against what she called the “Wuhan Pandemic.”
“We all agreed as a nation to stay at home in order to flatten the curve. We did that. But then certain elected officials decided that wasn’t enough,” Pike said. “They continue to move the goalposts with each passing day. I’m convinced the damage of a prolonged shut down of our community businesses will be far worse than the virus itself. Note the mortality rate has dropped significantly since the official and deeply flawed January and February predictions.”
Pike also said she thought Inslee and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkin were being hypocritical in allowing people marching in support of the Black Lives Matter movement to “gather by the thousands to protest, riot, deface and destroy private property” while continuing to place restrictions on businesses throughout the state during the COVID-19 crisis.
A National Bureau of Economic Research study shows that the Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality that have swept the nation since the May 25 death of George Floyd — a Black man killed after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes — have not contributed to a significant rise in COVID-19 cases within the more than 300 communities included in the study. The researchers concluded that protest attendees “may have mitigated the spread of COVID-19 via infection countermeasures such as wearing masks.”
A recent Texas A&M University study published in the official journal of the National Academy of Sciences found that not only does wearing a face mask halt person-to-person transmission of COVID-19, but that not wearing a mask increases a person’s likelihood of contracting the novel coronavirus that has killed nearly 130,000 Americans in four months.
Pike said Monday that she’s not 100-percent opposed to wearing a mask in public, but wrote the post because she is “so tired of government telling (her) what (she) can and cannot do” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have a mild case of asthma and those masks make it difficult for me to breathe. But that’s a side issue,” Pike told the Post-Record. “I just ordered a couple of ‘TRUMP 2020’ masks. When those arrive, I’ll be happy to wear them if I have to leave my farm.”