Klickitat County, Washington reported an alarming increase in cases of COVID-19 in an Aug. 6 press release. The report stated there have not been this many cases within a one-week period since December of last year.

As religious leaders we are concerned about this new surge in cases. We represent five different faith traditions united by one thread: a responsibility to care for the common good.

We are in a public health emergency where each of us must respond to a higher call to serve community well-being. In step with this Gov. Inslee has ordered state employees who are medically eligible to be vaccinated. The governor is also urging Washington residents, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks indoors in counties with high transmission rates like Klickitat County.

The support of all our public officials is needed in order for this pandemic to end. Sheriff Bob Songer of Klickitat County has spoken about his unwillingness to enforce masking mandates. The science clearly shows that wearing a mask reduces an infected person’s chance of spreading the infection to others. Masking prevents unnecessary deaths. We urge the Sheriff to act in ways that uphold public health.

An economically strong community is one that is healthy. A healthy community is one where our healthcare providers are able to respond to the health needs beyond this pandemic. We call on our neighbors to set aside political concerns and mask when indoors in public settings and get vaccinated, if medically possible.

An end to this pandemic will happen sooner, before more people die or become ill, if we stand together in service of the greater good and in care of the most vulnerable among us.

The Mount Adams Ministerial Association

Rev. Kendra Behn-Smith, White Salmon United Methodist Church ; Rev. John Boonstra, United Church of Christ, Hood River; Rev. P. Kelly Mahon, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church; Brook Maurer, Bahai’s of the Columbia Gorge; Rev. Kalama Reuter, Sufi Community; Rev. Laura Robinson, Bethel United Church of Christ; Rev. Mary Shaima, Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church; Rev. Alicia Spiedel, Hood River Valley Christian Church; Rev. Kirk Thomas, White Mountain Druid Sanctuary; Rev. Andy Wade, Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference and Rev. Judy Zimmerman, Mid-Columbia Unitarian Universalist Fellowship