Inslee called the lawsuit “biologically ignorant and humanly heartless.” JOHN MOORE / GETTY IMAGES
Today a handful of Republicans—including Drew MacEwen (R-Union), Chris Corry (R-Yakima), Andrew Barkis (R-Olympia), and Brandon Vick (R-Vancouver)—along with a few Washington residents filed a federal lawsuit seeking an emergency injunction to end Washington’s state of emergency and to immediately lift Gov. Inslee’s lockdown.
When asked about the lawsuit during a press conference on Tuesday, Inslee called it “biologically ignorant and humanly heartless,” noting that COVID-19 remains a “very transmittable disease” that has killed over 840 Washingtonians and infected over 15,000. The state continues to see around 200 new infections per day, a number that “concerns” State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “I think it’s a bit heartless to think that some people are somehow disposable citizens,” Inslee added.
Inslee’s chief of staff, David Postman, had a little bit more to say during the public health presser earlier in the afternoon, laying into the “attention-seekers” who filed the suit. “They should be ashamed. I think they lack the gene that allows them to feel that, but they should feel ashamed,” he said.
Postman began by relaying his “absolute disgust” with the attacks the Republicans level at the Department of Health in the complaint. After leading mass rallies during a respiratory virus pandemic and attempting to cloud a public health issue with a politically motivated lawsuit, the Republicans claim the “Department of Health has clouded the issue, while failing for weeks to protect the vulnerable populations in Washington.” Postman noted that Vice President Mike Pence, of all people, has praised Washington’s DOH for their response to the crisis, and said he was “shocked” by this criticism.
“Everyone at DOH is a more dedicated public servant than the attention-seekers who filed this lawsuit,” Postman said.
“If you take a look at it, it sort of reads like tarted-up talking points of the radical right,” Postman continued, saying it reminded him of the “stuff you can read in the Facebook comments” on Republican lawmakers’ pages.
“It’s just really kinda nuts,” he added.
In one of their more smooth-brained claims, the Republicans compare COVID-19 deaths and infections to other diseases. They show that the COVID totals are similar in number to other viruses and conclude that the lockdown therefore unnecessarily violated civil liberties, leaving out the glaringly obvious fact that the COVID death totals would be much higher if Inslee hadn’t shut down the state.
In another shockingly short-sighted argument, they claim that no one under 20 has died in Washington, and so it should be fine to let those groups get sick and get over it, or else run around spreading the disease asymptomatically. Incidentally, nine people under 20 have died with COVID across the country.
Postman repeatedly encouraged Republicans to google information they claim the Governor and DOH hasn’t released regarding comorbidities and the number of deaths and cases in nursing homes, and suggested they must have put the lawsuit together “in a hurry or something.”
Rather than work with the Governor and their colleagues in the statehouse to prevent death and illness, with this frivolous lawsuit Republicans flip yet another page in the playbook they’ve been using since the beginning of this crisis: perform pressure to maintain the illusion of their relevance with their base, trigger a few loud and unlikable liberal scolds along the way, and downplay the potentially deadly consequences of their actions.