Press Releases

Herrera Beutler Again Pushes Washington State to Relocate Centralia COVID Isolation Facility after Learning State Employee Commutes a Determining Factor

Through media reports, public learns state chose Centralia location in part to provide state employees with convenient travel

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Washington, June 7, 2021 | comments

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) today sent a letter to Governor Inslee repeating her request for the state to respond to the Centralia community’s increasing frustration over the COVID isolation facility placed there with virtually no public notice or comment. The state’s Department of Health recently stated that the commute times of state employees was a deciding factor in making this controversial decision.

The full text of the letter follows, and a PDF is available here.

Dear Governor Inslee,

I write to emphasize the Centralia community’s intensifying concerns with the state-run COVID-isolation facility and Department of Corrections holding center located at the Lakeview Inn. I have yet to receive a response to any of the questions I sent you on May 19 on behalf of Lewis County citizens, so am reliant on the ongoing reporting of local media to gather additional information. What they have illuminated has only increased the outrage of local residents and businesses.

One of the questions I posed to you on May 19 was: What criteria was used to conclude that a motel in a commercial district in Centralia was the best option available to the Department of Health (DOH)? The Chronicle Newspaper has reported that the Lakeview Inn was chosen because, according to DOH staff, it would ease the commute for state employees.

From the first revelation that the state was dropping this COVID facility in the middle of Centralia without notifying the community, to learning that the comfort and convenience of state employees was a determining factor in this decision, the state has had its priorities totally backward in each step of this process. Congress did not approve and send Washington state hundreds of millions of dollars in federal COVID aid to prioritize the commutes of government employees over the safety and well-being of the community it’s supposed to be serving.

The Lewis County Commission has justifiably demanded that this site be closed and relocated. While it is with some relief that I read in the newspaper that the Department of Health may be considering a more permanent location by the end of July, it would be prudent to commit to and expedite that action.

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