Chelan-Douglas Health District rebuilding from COVID-19 crisis

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EAST WENATCHEE — When COVID-19 first came to the Wenatchee Valley, the Chelan-Douglas Health District — the lead public health agency for both counties —was thrown into crisis.

Last May, two months after Washington entered a state of emergency to deal with COVID-19, three members of its own governing board joined lawsuits to overturn Gov. Jay Inslee’s public health orders. The lawsuits went nowhere in court, but created friction between boardmembers, public health officer Dr. Malcolm Butler, and longtime health district administrator Barry Kling, who retired suddenly in June.

It’s now November, eight months into the pandemic, and the health district has gotten help from state incident management teams. Nathan Weed, a longtime public health expert for the state of Washington, is the second interim administrator for the district since that time, and the search is on for a permanent replacement.

In Thursday night’s forum, we asked key figures at the local health agency what they’ve done to rebuild and regain public trust.