The following is a joint letter to the community from Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert, Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson, University of Idaho President Scott Green and Washington State University President Kirk Schulz.
Those of us who live on the Palouse know that while our part of the world features two world-class, land-grant universities working in two different cities in two different states, this is, by every measure, a single community. We truly are in this together and, as mayors and university presidents, we write to you as one united body of leadership.
Many University of Idaho employees live in Pullman; many Washington State University employees live in Moscow. Shopping, restaurants, farmers markets, concerts, lectures and athletic events on both sides of the state line attract audiences from both sides of the state line. Many people work in organizations in both Washington and Idaho. Our primary industries are identical. It takes less than 10 minutes to drive from the border of one city to the other, a little longer if you ride the bike path connecting us.
That proximity affords amazing opportunities that improve the quality of life for all of us. It is what makes this such an attractive place to live, work and play. In the age of COVID-19, however, that proximity also highlights the responsibility we all bear to keep each other safe and healthy.
Each university and community took different approaches to monitor and mitigate spread of the coronavirus based on their individual circumstances. However, the constants reinforced time and time again by public health officials and scientists since the start of the COVID-19 crisis provide a foundation to help all of us to be part of the solution.
To all members of this wonderful community, please wear a face covering when you are anywhere6 feet of distance can’t be maintained, especially indoors. Wash your hands often and thoroughly. Avoid large gatherings where masking and distancing protocols are not being followed, knowing that 1) they are the primary source of disease spread, and 2) law enforcement officials on both sides of the border have our strong support in issuing citations for those who participate.
Frequent the businesses that follow best practices for “crushing the curve.” Don’t travel outside of the area unless you absolutely have to. Self-quarantine upon your return if you do have to leave the area.
Over the next several weeks, you will see billboards, radio ads, social posts and other messaging about the integrated nature of our community and how what each of us does individually impacts the life and work of all of us collectively. We hope you will heed their advice and share them with your friends, family and co-workers.
“We’re in this together” is much more than a marketing slogan on the Palouse. It is an undeniable fact with substantial consequences. Thank you for doing your part to make sure this remains one strong and beautiful community.