OLYMPIA, Wash. — The death last week of state Sen. Doug Ericksen of Ferndale has prompted concern and speculation at the state Capitol among those who are asking if his passing was linked to his battle with COVID-19 and whether or not he was vaccinated against the virus.
Sen. John Braun, a leader among state Republicans, dismissed the speculation that was occurring.
"It’s tragic (and) sad.” he said Monday. “I don’t know whether he was vaccinated or not either but I don’t think it matters. The fact is we had a good person who served his state and his district with distinction, and tragically we lost him. I don’t think this is the time or place to second guess what Doug Ericksen did or didn’t do.”
Relatives of Ericksen on Friday confirmed his death, which has also ignited an effort by Whatcom County Republicans to replace him since the start of the legislative session is only three weeks away.
It was publicly known that the state lawmaker was battling COVID. He had informed his legislative colleagues in November that he had tested positive for COVID while he was visiting El Salvador and was in need of monoclonal antibodies, but it remains unclear if Ericksen had been vaccinated.
KOMO News had spoken to Ericksen during the pandemic as recent as Aug. 13, when he declined to say if he had received the vaccine.
“You know, I think that’s a personal decision for people to make in terms of vaccine and whether they want to reveal that," he said. "And I’m not for vaccines or against vaccines, but that’s up to each individual to make that decision on their own.”
Ericksen's death has also led to speculation that he could have escaped his ultimate fate had he been vaccinated.
“Yes, I’ve heard that kind of thing," Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, said Monday. "It’s just disappointing (that) Sen. Ericksen’s death is being politicized by anyone.”
Aberdeen said his colleague was not anti-vaccine, but was opposed to being required to obtain the treatment.
“One person making that decision is not the way we run a democracy," Ericksen had told KOMO News in the past, a statement supported by many of his colleagues.
“Ericksen and I were really on the same page in that regard," Walsh said. "Neither of us was anti-vax. We’re formed informed consent and he was a champion for informed consent.