San Benito County’s Board of Supervisors recently voted against a resolution that would have prohibited any business or other entity in the California county from requiring employees or patrons to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Businesses would also have been asked to remove signs requiring masks or other face coverings.
During the June 22 board meeting, County Supervisor Peter Hernandez said the resolution would protect people’s freedom of choice and promote informed decision-making. He decided to introduce the resolution after Nevada’s White Pine County approved a similar action in April.
“As much as we think that we know what’s best as elected officials, we’re not representing our duties right, I would say, because of the way that these things, this dialogue has become so mute with only half the information being provided,” Hernandez told NTD Television.
The resolution failed in a 3–1 vote after more than three hours of discussion and public comments. While 32 people spoke on the issue, only three were against the resolution. However, the three supervisors who voted against the resolution stated that the majority of speakers weren’t from San Benito County, so they didn’t represent the local community.
The resolution also would have asked medical providers to provide patients with comprehensive information to allow for informed decisions. The county would have been required to treat people equally regardless of vaccination status.
San Benito County borders Santa Clara County, which has experienced one of the highest levels of COVID-19-related restrictions in the country.
Supervisor Bob Tiffany of District 4 said, “I do believe that for the most part, the decisions that have been made are based on what’s best for society, how are we going to, as soon as possible, get out of this pandemic.”
Supervisor Kollin Kosmicki of District 2 said: “I really encourage everyone, and I think we all should encourage from a science standpoint, to get vaccinated. I think it’s the right thing to do, not just for yourself but for your fellow human being.”
However, Hernandez said that elected officials and governing agencies need to better engage with the communities they serve. Regarding the vaccines, he believes individuals should have access to information that thoroughly explains the potential risks, benefits, and alternatives.
“Informed consent is profound because it ultimately engages the individual to make a choice, and that choice is with all the consequences considered. Outside of that, it becomes a dangerous element where choices are made, and not considering the consequences, and then there’s collateral damage that someone has to eventually atone for,” Hernandez said during the meeting.
He also said that vaccine incentives and segregating people based on vaccination status are forms of coercion. Although there is no vaccine mandate, the State of California has been using money lotteries and promoting discounts at certain businesses as incentives for people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
While the resolution failed, the conversations during the board meeting echoed a growing sentiment regarding vaccine mandates and so-called passports. In recent months, people have spoken out against mandates, citing them as a violation of freedom of choice and violation of privacy.
“My big hope … is that it becomes a stronger grassroots national conversation that brings back the original intent of the founders that have given us ultimately the ‘We the People’ element; that we become responsive to the public as elected officials; that we cannot just go by half-truths. We have to be very clear,” Hernandez said.
He believes that people’s fundamental right to choose must be protected.