Local legislative candidate wants COVID-19 restrictions gone

Legislative candidate Mike Peterson is urging Gov. Gary Herbert to drop Utah's "one size fits all" social and economic restrictions due to the coronavirus.

LOGAN – A local legislative candidate is adding his voice to that of a growing chorus of conservatives demanding that Utah fully reopen its economy.

“I join all Utahns in expressing gratitude that the loss of life from the COVID-19 disease has not been greater,” says Mike Peterson, a local businessman running against incumbent state Rep. Val Potter in Utah’s 3rd Legislative District.

“I continue, however, to be very concerned and saddened by the economic devastation that has occurred in the lives of countless Utahns because of the ‘one size fits all’ approach (to the coronavirus outbreak) that our state leaders have taken.”

On April 30, Gov. Gary Herbert issued an executive order placing the entire state of Utah under “moderate risk” protocols for the threat of coronavirus infection. That order allowed some businesses to re-open, with statewide social distancing guidelines still in effect.

I strongly urge Gov. Herbert to end his executive order,” Peterson argues in a recent campaign statement that advocates that Utahns should decide for themselves what health precautions are now necessary. “Utahns are strong and smart. When taught correct principles – such as social distancing – they will wisely govern themselves to good health and prosperity.”

That’s a view shared by state Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, who believes that it’s time to stop closing businesses and putting undue regulations and restrictions on residents.

Ray serves on the Health and Human Services Committee in the Utah House and is a member of the COVID-19 Community Task Force who opposed Utah’s policy of closing businesses and schools. Like Peterson, he says that the state should immediately move to a normal threat level and let people choose for themselves whether to go out or not.

“Having been told (by health experts during the 2009 swine flu pandemic) that no healthy individual should be forced into quarantine,” Ray says, “I am now furious to have that happen during the very next pandemic.”

But the advice of health experts is strongly endorsed by advocacy groups like the Alliance for a Better Utah.

“It is precisely because Utah listened to the experts that we have been able to prevent the mass spread of the virus,” according to Lauren Simpson, the ABU’s policy director.

Ray counters, however, that health officials have “zero focus” on the economy and don’t care that the shut-down they imposed is killing businesses. The Utah Restaurant Association, for example, estimates that 25 percent of Utah eateries will never re-open.

“The best stimulus package that we could give (to Utah) is to open our businesses up and let them revive the economy,” Ray insists. “That won’t cost the taxpayers a dime.”

Peterson believes that the COVID-19 statistics released by Utah’s health districts themselves prove that the state’s “one size fits all” approach to battling the coronavirus outbreak was a mistake.

“As of May 3, 11 of the state’s 13 local public health departments had each reported two or fewer deaths from COVID-19,” the candidate emphasized. “Utah and Salt Lake counties are the only exceptions with 9 and 31 deaths respectively …

“Although the Bear River Health Department has reported only a single COVID-19 death, we are under the same restrictions … as Salt Lake and Utah counties. Five public health departments have reported no deaths and they too are under the same statewide restrictions.”

“The state’s action over the past few months,” Peterson concludes, “are a powerful example of the truth Thomas Jefferson taught when he said: ‘The government closest to the people serves the people best’.”

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3 Comments

  • Evan Hillman May 8, 2020 at 8:58 pm Reply

    “I strongly urge Gov. Herbert to end his executive order.” In other words, he doesn’t care how many more people die. We need fewer people like this in government, not more.

    • Kurt Leikis May 10, 2020 at 2:05 am Reply

      We absolutely do not need more dictator type politicians or bureaucrats making unilateral decisions outside of constitutionally created legislative bodies. To state the need for such, is expressly contrary to the American ideal and Constitutional federal and state law. In the U.S., personal safety has always been the responsibility of individuals, not any government body.

      The candidates point in this article is that our population density does require the same measures as higher density areas. Each microcosm of a given population needs its own prescription, thus his comment regarding “one size does not fit all”. Individual freedom is still the basis of law in the United States, at least for the moment. We don’t need the government to regulating this type of behavior. Such political ideas have a historical plethora of documented evidence to the contrary, creating oppressive and often murderous results. This is why the Founding Fathers created our system of government. Individual freedom to choose what is best for themselves and the local governments knowing what is best versus state or federal government, was the premise of their creation. The more localized the organization, the better the understanding of the needs it prescribes to serve. The further you travel from the center(an individual), the less detailed the prescriptive solution.

      Furthermore, a healthy human immune system is designed to deal with this situation and does so regardless of whether it is Covid-19, H1N1, or Influenza, etc. Our body combats foreign microbes on a continual basis. That is its’ role. Only those who are elderly, or otherwise have compromised immune systems are at an elevated risk to such entities. If you care about those at higher risk (or you yourself are at higher risk), simply stay away. To believe that you can legislate or regulate in any meaningful way, all human behavior and interactions for the sake of individual health while mitigating harmful or even catastrophic second order and third order effects, is foolish at best.

      Additionally, the current response to this “pandemic” should not be construed a simple dichotomy of death or life. To state it as such, is inherently flawed; illustrating either a lack of understanding of the intersection of complex systems such as microbiology, the variance of unique societies(N.Y.C. vs. Logan, Virginia vs. Wyoming, U.S.A. vs. China, etc. (can be continued ad nauseam) and individual human behaviors (not all, but most Americans self-quarantined before any government entity officially issued any mandates (this was not typical in many other countries)), and U.S. Constitutional law, or there exists an absence to care about such. The comment “In other words, he doesn’t care how many people die.” is false, overly-simplistic, ignorant and asinine simultaneously. The choice for us is not binary. Few choices in life are.

  • Deedee May 10, 2020 at 9:42 pm Reply

    Thank you Kurt. Well said. Let’s teach some courses on the constitution again in school and online. We need more people who know it and know their rights.

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