CHEHALIS, Wash - Governor Jay Inslee’s face covering mandate is getting push back.
Lewis County Sheriff Robert Snaza told a group of people to be critical when government leaders insist you always follow orders.
His comments were also caught on video, which was shared with Q13 News by The Daily Chronicle.
The sheriff says he was not insisting people to defy the mandate but reminded the public their right to dissent.
“I said ‘don’t be sheep,’" said Snaza.
But the group who had been speaking did not gather to hear from the sheriff, he said.
Incidents involving the destruction of statues across the country drew the crowd near a controversial billboard along I-5 south of Chehalis.
“They had heard information that protesters were going to come and try to burn the sign down,” Snaza said.
Lewis County is already in Phase 3 of the staggered reopening of our state's economy.
Callie Carpenter’s bakery is going through a rough patch. She also helped coordinate volunteers to sew face coverings for healthcare workers and strangers.
She heard the sheriff’s comments but thinks his message was not black-and-white.
“It doesn’t have to be a confrontational thing,” said Carpenter. “You can help others by being kind.”
“This is the time to take action,” said state Secretary of Health John Wiesman.
State health officials insist our state is nowhere near out of danger among the pandemic. Weisman worries face cover faultfinders could send a dangerous message.
“That’s extremely disappointing,” he said. “COVID is a serious disease that people need to take seriously.”
“It should be okay for us to say wait a minute,” said Snaza.
The sheriff said he supports face coverings and tells anyone who worries about infection to abide by the mandate, but also reminds his constituents' dissent is an American value.
“I know that we should be educating people on the importance of wearing a mask and why they should,” he said. “I support that.”
State health officials say while they’re still learning about coronavirus, the current science suggests face coverings can prevent the spread.
To date, Lewis County has seen 50 confirmed infections including three deaths.