▶️ Deschutes Co. commissioner clarifies remarks made at rally

A Deschutes County Commissioner caught in an apparent contradiction at a protest Friday, tried to clear up confusion on Monday.

Commissioner Phil Henderson was the only elected official to speak at Friday’s “Reopen Central Oregon” rally on the steps of City Hall in Redmond.

He told the crowd, “I do think the way we’ve done it in Oregon has been overly aggressive.”

“I do take seriously this Coronavirus issue and as it’s developed in our nation,” he said. “I don’t know how seriously we should all take it. It’s really hard to know. We’ve seen some places where it’s gone crazy.”

It was the second local event in as many weeks to protest the mandated closure of some businesses to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Henderson echoed the frustration of demonstrators.

“What I don’t like specifically about this coronavirus decision making, and specifically our state, is they’re basically saying that certain jobs, you’re no longer free to do. You’re no longer free to cut somebody’s hair; you’re no longer free to do their nails; you’re no longer free to give them food in a restaurant; you’re no longer free to sell in your store,” he said. 

But Henderson, at County Commission meetings, has said it’s too soon to reopen the economy just yet.

He told Central Oregon Daily on Monday, “I think we have to do it in steps; and I’m fine with that.”

At Friday’s rally, very few people practiced social distancing and they weren’t wearing protective gear.

 Monday, Henderson showed off his PPE during a Zoom interview.

 “I’ve got gloves on today. I wear a mask virtually everywhere; I wear a mask more than anyone in this building.”

 He was then asked why he chose not to wear PPE while passing around a microphone at a rally with 150 people.

 “Well, I heard about that from my wife,” he said.

 He did tell the rally crowd he had PPE with him, “I have a mask in my pocket that my wife made, which I wear all the time.”

 And said today, “I’d be in favor of mandatory masks”

Henderson says while he supports the current “Stay Home Save Lives” order, he is concerned about the loss of Civil Liberties, the damage to the economy and long-lasting effects to our region.

“To me, it’s a matter of balance and figuring out the best public policy for all of those issues,” he said.

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