“LA County should lead by example,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl told the Epoch Times
“The best step we can take for the health of all our residents is for as many working adults as possible to be vaccinated, so we are starting with our own 100,000+ employees, insisting that, for a start, they either be fully vaccinated or get a COVID-19 test each week and eventually get vaccinated, unless they are exempted for health or religious beliefs,” she said.
Kuehl said she knows many companies have already adopted similar policies, and she hopes more will follow.
“We cannot wait another day as this virus continues to upend and dramatically alter the lives of our residents,” Chair Hilda L. Solis said in a statement on Aug. 4 after issuing an executive order requiring all county employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 1. Solis’s order allows for religious and medical exemptions. The executive order was approved by the board on Aug. 10.
Kuehl, along with Supervisor Janice Hahn, also passed a secondary motion for the creation of an official vaccination policy for county employees in the next 15 days.
The board also directed county staff to evaluate the possibility of requiring proof of vaccination to enter indoor spaces in addition to businesses and events using existing digital or paper records.
“I want to avoid a situation where we are forced to shut down businesses and limit capacity,” Hahn said. “That was devastating to our businesses and our local workers. We need to look at every tool at our disposal to protect our residents and our economy.”
Some local residents, including health professionals and community leaders, called into the board meeting to vocalize their support of the motion. Several supporters cited concern for at-risk groups as a key motivation to get vaccinated.
Ricky Garcia, administrator of El Proyecto Del Barrio Clinic said at the board meeting he decided to support COVID-19 vaccines after his clinic lost several community members to COVID-19.
NLEC President, Reverend Gabriel Salguero, told The Epoch Times that the coalition decided to open up their churches as COVID-19 vaccination sites as a way to care for neighbors.
“This is kind of our love of neighbor: to do what you can to mitigate the spread of this of COVID-19,” Salguero said.
Cathy Garvin, a registered nurse at LA County U.S. Department of Emergency Medicine, said at the meeting that some who decline the vaccine are her own friends, family, and colleagues.
“I respect their fear and their concerns,” Garvin said. “However, a partially vaccinated population is a training ground for this virus. Delta is on the rise, the emergency department is filling back up, and people will die without vaccines.”
Those who oppose vaccine mandates say the choice to get vaccinated should be left up to the individual. Others say they believe it is wrong for the state to require a vaccine that is not fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
On Aug. 9, nearly 200 health care workers protested against California’s vaccination mandate in Orange County.
“I don’t believe it’s right. My body, my choice. There’s so many reasons that we should have the right to choose and not feel coerced or pressured, because a lot of people have gotten [the vaccine] out of feeling pressured,” Margaret Wonser, a registered nurse at CHOC, told The Epoch Times in a previous interview.
“I have an immune system. I trust it. God gave it to me. I don’t come to work when I’m sick, I stay home. So let’s get back to the basics of health and wellness, and when you’re sick, stay home, and when you’re not, great, go to work. This is just madness.”
The Epoch Times reached out to Chair Hilda L. Solis, who declined to comment for this article. Supervisors Holly J. Mitchell and Kathryn Barger didn’t respond to a request for comment by press deadline.