Today’s decision adds more than 4,000 county workers to the list of public facing employees that must either show proof of vaccination or get tested weekly. Police, firefighters and school staff were already required. Today's move by the board of supervisors, adds every other county employee.
Dozens of residents, however, showed up in person to the board of supervisors meeting protesting the new policy.
“You're going to make it mandatory, I think that's wrong everyone should be like we are today, wear a mask, social distance and I think that's enough,” said former county employee Stanley Edward Laughlin.
"The direction our county is heading is out of control discrimination, especially to lots of people of color who are not getting the vaccine,” said a local healthcare worker who remained anonymous. “It's tyrannical.”
“What happened to my body my choice,” said resident Terri Moon.
Many residents voiced mistrust in the vaccine and testing and said the policy was an infringement of their rights.
After hours of opposition from residents, the board of supervisors voted 4-0 in support of the policy, with Supervisor David Rabbitt absent.
Chair Lynda Hopkins responded to the residents' concerns by emphasizing the choice to either get vaccinated or tested.
“This is not actually a vaccine mandate,” Hopkins said. “We are offering folks an alternative and a choice.”
Supervisor Chris Coursey explained why this policy is important at this stage of the pandemic.
“We are in a surge right now that mirrors the worst days of last winter,” Coursey said. “We need to do what's best to keep our employees and our clients, residents citizens of this county, we need to do everything we can to keep them safe.”
The new policy will go into effect September 7th.