Pandemic? You wouldn’t know it in this town.
The tiny city of Mossyrock in Washington state, with about 800 residents, is refusing to comply with statewide COVID-19 shutdown orders — recently passing a resolution to allow its 30 local businesses to stay open.
The town’s defiant stance saw far-right groups host a massive “Freedom Rally” there over the weekend that more than doubled the local population — with no social distancing and nary a mask in sight, according to reports.
Mayor Randall Sasser said when passing the measure late last month that he’d seen no data showing the local zip code had any cases or deaths — and argued that suicides and economic devastation are a greater threat in their neck of the woods, according to KIRO Radio.
“When we look at the shutdowns and everything that’s happening and there’s no data that says the Mossyrock area 98564 zip code has any cases or deaths, why then should we suffer as a city and as citizens following the governor’s mandate?” he told the radio station after the measure passed late last month.
The rally, organized by Patriot Prayer, brought about 1,000 people into the town on Saturday, according to the Daily Mail.
Members of the group stood guard at local businesses that remained open despite the state’s orders, which ban indoor dining and set strict social distancing restrictions.
The crowd denounced Washington Gov. Jay Inslee as a “dictator” for ordering the lockdown in the first place, saying that if Mossyrock’s handful of businesses shut down, the town’s tourism-based economy will go into the tank.
Local officials griped that the pandemic has already stretched the town’s economy by forcing the cancellation of Mossyrock’s Blueberry Festival and the nearby Loggers Jubilee this year — big money events for local retailers.
“They’re frustrated at being told what they can and can’t do in their homes, where they can and can’t shop,” rally attendee Arminta Mellis told KING-TV. “Wal-Mart and Target, and all these big-box stores are open, but little mom-and-pop shops can’t be open. That ain’t right.”
But some locals aren’t on board with the opening up — or the crowds the rally attracted.
“The mayor is a nice guy but he’s gone slightly off the rails this time,” Sona Markholt of local company Markholt’s Organics Poultry and Smoked Meats told the Daily Mail.
“COVID is real. I have a 75-year-old mother to care for and an essential business to run and the last thing we need is people being told they don’t need to wear masks, and crowds coming here from out of state.”
The Evergreen State has reported more than 203,000 COVID-19 cases, with nearly 3,000 dead. Lewis County, which includes Mossyrock, has had more than 1,600 cases and 18 deaths from the virus.