The Oregon Health Authority worked hard since the beginning of the pandemic to do what it thought best to protect Oregonians. But there have been downright confounding examples where it has failed to be open to the public about what it was doing.
The OHA made a decision earlier this year to start releasing less information about people who had died from COVID-19. Why do Oregonians need less information? OHA said it was too much work. Gov. Kate Brown initially backed the OHA move and then reversed it.
Just a few months ago, OHA banned the public from access to a meeting of OHA’s Vaccine Advisory Committee. Every other meeting had been open to the public but it decided not to because it “had completed its official duties” and was working on implementation of its vaccine distribution plan. The public should not have access to that?
You have also likely seen those graphics that OHA releases showing COVID-19 cases per week. Oregonian reporter Brad Schmidt made a records request for the actual numbers used to make one chart. OHA denied his request. Oregonians can’t know the precise numbers?
Oregon Senate Bill 719 sets out to correct some of that tendency toward secrecy. It would make it clear that basic aggregate data about disease investigations should not be denied to the public. Pass SB 719.