Tom Vialpando (left) Vale mayor and Katy Lamb, former city manager look through city bill ledger at the old city hall last week. Vialpando recently wrote a letter to Gov. Kate Brown describing the impact Covid restrictions have on area residents. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).
VALE – Vale Mayor Tom Vialpando wants Gov. Kate Brown to know that after 14 months of on and off Covid restrictions his constituents are frustrated.
That’s why he penned a letter to Brown Tuesday that outlined the impact state Covid mandates have on small businesses and residents in Vale, including triggering mental health issues with youth.
“I basically asked her, what is the game plan? What is next? We are stuck in this limbo game waiting each week to see what level we are going to be at,” said Vialpando.
The movement from one Covid risk category to another creates a disproportionate impact on a small town like Vale, wrote Vialpando.
“We are a community of less than 2,000 which means we are already limited to what we have available and when we get put at the high or extreme levels we are basically getting shut down,” Vialpando wrote.
Vialpando also wrote about feedback he’s received indicating many people believe the Covid restrictions are unfairly enforced.
Vialpando wrote that Vale residents and merchants followed the protocols required by the state but city leaders “have had to field questions such as, ‘What makes big business, liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries essential they can have peopled lined up chest to chest but yet our small restaurants and one bar can’t open?’” wrote Vialpando.
“Not only do business owners endure hardship from being shut down, children, who have only the city park and municipal swimming pool (if not mandated to close), are left with almost nothing to do,” he wrote.
Vialpando wrote that as a result, “their mental health, friendships and overall mental health is negativity impacted.”
“The children and adults in Vale are experiencing things such as social anxiety and weight gain in ways that this area has never seen and with limited professional in the area to help them,” Vialpando wrote.
Vialpando asked the governor that with vaccines available, when will be the “time in our area we can switch to be in an educate instead of mandate, scenario?”
“In speaking with county health officials recently and reading about it in the newspaper, vaccine requests have reached a plateau and they are struggling to find people to vaccinate,” wrote Vialpando.
In the letter, Vialpando also told the governor that when it comes to enforcing restrictions, the city is essentially powerless.
“I am asking, what can you do for us in these smaller cities where the one size doesn’t fit all?” said Vialpando.
Vialpando said he is concerned about the upcoming summer months.
“We can’t do the same thing we did last year as far as everything being closed. If the swimming pool is closed and the restaurants are closed, what do the kids have to do? Nothing,” said Vialpando.
Vialpando said if directed by the state, the city would close the pool.
“It’s not that the city won’t follow the mandates handed down. But as far as guidance (to businesses) the only thing we can tell them is we can’t do anything,” said Vialpando.
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]
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