Publishers note: While this letter is written specifically about the COVID-19 response in Kootenai County, it applies in most places around the world. Novel coronavirus is, as the name implies, novel, meaning new and never before seen, either immunologically by those the virus afflicts or by those called upon by their positions to mount the community and societal responses. This is a situation in which we truly all find ourselves in the same boat, and we are all learning and adapting.

There was a recent letter to the editor in the Coeur d’Alene Press calling out elected officials for not being the out-in-front leaders, as the writer expects.

It’s important to note city and county leadership have done exactly what they needed to do; declare emergency status, and let the people who manage crisis do their work.

Chris Way, Chief of the Kootenai County Emergency Medical Services System, and Sheriff Ben Wolfinger are sharing unified command duties in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

The center is staffed with personnel from Kootenai County and the various local fire districts and departments, as well as volunteers who have been specially trained to the various functions necessary in the EOC.

These are the people who are scouring the country for the necessary equipment and supplies our first responders and health care workers need. They are the people who are the coordination point for local supplies going to those on the front line of battling this disease.

These are the people who on a daily basis are coordinating the message between Panhandle Health, Kootenai Health and the Emergency Operations Center about what is happening with regard to COVID-19, so the information is accurate and uniform.

Additionally, Chief Way and Sheriff Wolfinger are in regular contact with the Incident Commanders at both Panhandle Health and Kootenai Health, so our efforts are coordinated and not duplicated. They also work with local non-profits to address the COVID-19 pandemic as it applies to our homeless population.

Local elected officials are invited and participate in a briefing call three times a week to stay up to speed with what the EOC is working on.

We appreciate the trust and belief our local mayors and county commissioners place in Chris and Ben and the rest of the EOC staff and volunteers who continue to address this pandemic in coordination with the Panhandle Health District and Kootenai Health.

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