Just days after the October 1 deadline that requires all Los Angeles County employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that he won’t be enforcing the county’s mandate.
Villaneuva, who says that he’s been inoculated since January, said during a Q&A event on Facebook that he’s going to “encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” but his staff of roughly 18,000 won’t be punished if they refuse to get the jab, the Associated Press reports.
“I’m not forcing anyone” to get the vaccine,” Villanueva said of the mandate, which was issued in August. “The issue has become so politicized. There are entire groups of employees that are willing to be fired and laid off rather than get vaccinated. So, I don’t want to be in a position to lose 5 [to] 10 percent of my workforce overnight on a vaccine mandate while at the same time I’m barebones with the funding effort.”
He added, “This is like the worst of two worlds right here.”
Villanueva will, however, require employees to wear masks.
“You’re 11 times more likely to survive COVID if you’re vaccinated than if you’re not, so that’s going to have to be your choice,” the controversial leader said. “However, if you’re working for the department, you have to wear the mask. Working indoors, contacting the public, yes, you have to wear that mask.”
Villanueva made his remarks the same day that Los Angeles City Council adopted one of the nation’s strictest vaccine ordinances, which requires people to show proof of vax to enter restaurants, movie theaters, hair salons, and other indoor establishments.
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