Matt Shea leads protest against lockdown

Jerry LeClaire | Indivisible | May 27, 2020


On May 1st, a Friday, several hundred protestors led by soon-to-be-former State Rep. Matt Shea marched through Spokane to the County Courthouse. They were protesting Governor Inslee‘s stay-home order as “unconstitutional.” Their motto: “Freedom is the Cure.” Spacing was shoulder-to-shoulder, masks were rare and MAGA hats aplenty. Speakers were mostly familiar members of the Matt Shea circle: Gabe Blomgren of Covenant Church; Joey Gibson, founder of the Portland-based, far-right group Patriot Prayer; Caleb Collier, former City of Spokane Valley city councilman; and the Rev. Matthew Cummings, a right-wing pastor associated with the Marble Community Fellowship in Stevens County.

Buried in that May 2 Spokesman article (linked above) was a photo of a speaker who was otherwise unmentioned in that first article: Jason Kinley, a doctor of naturopathy. Dr. Kinley, speaking to the closely packed crowd at the courthouse, ” launched into a minuteslong polemic deriding stay-home orders and widely accepted public health guidelines offered at the state, local and national level.” That was according to the Spokesman’s followup article on May 17th. Speaking without a mask to mostly unmasked protesters, Dr. Kinley expressed doubts about the effectiveness of masks in reducing the spread of Covid-19.

He told the crowd that there exists “no widely accepted treatment” for viruses. That is false. There are thoroughly tested, proven, and useful drug treatments for AIDS, herpes, and influenza, all diseases caused by viruses.

His statements in support of the use of hydroxychloroquine and high-dose vitamin C for Covid-19 launched him into the realm of quackery. There is scant evidence, much less a series of double-blind, controlled studies, that supports the efficacy of either treatment. Hydroxychloroquine use in Covid-19 patients is associated with an excess risk of death from cardiac arrhythmia while showing no conclusive benefit. Dr. Kinley has not read, does not comprehend, and/or simply dismisses multiple studies presenting clear evidence.

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Dr. Kinley’s counterfactual presentation of medical science was his to make, except for this: Jason Kinley spoke as a “medical professional” from an appointed position on the Spokane Regional Health District’s Board of Health (SRHD BOH).

The Spokane Regional Health District Board of Health is an intergovernmental group encompassing Spokane County (the territory of the “Regional Health District”). The Board of Health holds a monthly meeting that is open to the public. The mission statement of the Board reads, ” As a leader and partner in public health, we protect, improve and promote the health and well-being of all people through evidence-based practices.” Jason Kinley rejected evidence-based practice and directly undermined the mission statement of the Board on which he sits. How did Jason Kinley come to sit on the Board of Health?

The only members of the twelve member Board of Health with any training in a health profession are Dr. Kinley, with a 2016 degree in naturopathy and Andrea Frostad, with a degree in Dental Hygiene. Both are appointed “members-at-large.”

The Board of Health has been the target of the local and vocal anti-vaccination community for the last several years, a group also with allies in Shea circles.

While the rest of the citizenry is paying little attention, a small, but growing, group of motivated folk, many of them allied with Matt Shea are organizing, paying attention, and joining local government.

It is time for the rest of us to pay attention.