County pivots to vaccine resolutions

Both claim commissioners oppose vaccination controls and believe they are in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws. Both were passed unanimously.

The commissioners have received a large number of letters, not all from residents of the county, who opposed the idea of ​​having companies checked vaccination cards before patrons can enter without a mask.

Entrepreneurs have also said they don’t want to be enabled to check vaccination status. Commissioners Mary Starrett and Lindsay Berschauer have spoken out loudly against the controls in public meetings and on social media.

Some companies are now also allowed to set up separate seating areas for vaccinated and unvaccinated customers, a provision that Starrett and Berschauer vehemently oppose.

Commissioner Casey Kulla said he does not like putting companies in an uncomfortable position, but noted that they have the alternative of continuing to require all customers to wear masks.

Last week, Starrett requested that the board pass an ordinance banning vaccination status checks in the county, but was informed by county counsel Christian Boenisch that doing so would violate both state and federal law. Starrett suggested revising the regulation. However, this week Starrett and Berschauer tabled two resolutions opposing the check, instead declaring it illegal. Resolutions have no legal force.

Berschauer said she is in favor of making it clear to companies that “if you do, we are not supporting you, whether or not you have a legal right to do so.”

The first resolution put forward by Starrett states that exposing clients who provide evidence of vaccination will expose “a patient’s privacy being violated and a person will be forced to wear a mask or show a“ vaccination certificate ”, which is a person’s right Privacy Violation and May Lead A company reported to the US Department of Justice for violating civil rights. “

It is alleged that “prohibiting access to a place of” public accommodation “for someone who cannot or will not wear a mask or who will not be vaccinated is against federal and state anti-discrimination laws and access to such places may be not prohibited because of their proprietary status. “

In addition, it says that “the requirement for“ COVID-19 passports ”for participation in everyday life – for example for employment, attending school or sporting events, patronizing a restaurant or going to a cinema – two classes of citizens would create based on vaccination. “

Numerous residents wrote to Berschauer and Starrett this week urging them not to compare public health measures with the American Jim Crow laws that oppressed African Americans or the genocide of Jews and other minorities in Nazi Germany.

They noted that the obligation of people not vaccinated against COVID-19 to prevent wearing masks is intended to stop the spread of the disease and that customers are free to refuse to show a vaccination card and simply get one instead Mask to wear inside. Companies are still free to require all customers to wear a mask.

“It is reprehensible for county officials to compare mask mandates and vaccination cards with Jim Crow’s laws. As you should know, Jim Crow is referring to the legalized oppression of blacks after the abolition of slavery, ”wrote Leslie Ballan, a McMinnville resident. “A more appropriate comparison would be seat belt and helmet laws promoting public safety. You may not want to wear them, but it is the law that protects you from yourself. Please stop making scientifically based public health efforts your personal sacrifice. It is offensive! “

Samantha Wikstrom of Newberg wrote: “You will not be economically disadvantaged by choosing not to vaccinate. You will not be forced to send your children to substandard schools because you choose not to vaccinate. You will not be sent to gas chambers. You are only asked to wear a mask. … It is ridiculous to compare vaccination certificates with being placed in a Soviet labor camp (“Welcome to the Gulag”, Starrett Facebook, May 18). People are in a labor camp because they need to prove their vaccination status in order to play a Trail Blazers game without a mask? The dramatic language does not help Yamhill County. We are constantly being divided by this type of rhetoric at a time when we might come together. “

Wikstrom wrote: “We are not guided by research, science, or public health interests. We are led by conspiracy theories and ignorance and division. “

Berchauer replied to several letter writers: “A forced separation of our residents due to their individual medical decisions or circumstances will never be tolerated in this district as long as I am a commissioner.”

In a discussion with journalists from across the state on Tuesday that included a discussion of the Yamhill County’s approach, professors at Oregon State University noted that Americans are already used to using personal information for activities like obtaining passports Purchasing alcohol or tobacco or obtaining a wristband provide identification of persons who are under the legal drinking age at festivals and other alcohol-serving events. Public schools also require proof of vaccination against a number of childhood diseases to attend.

“We’ll do it,” said deputy economics professor Aimee Huff.

OSU professor Chi Chinhuei, director of the Center for Global Health, and Brett Tyler, director of the Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing, said there was still a significant risk of getting COVID-19 for unvaccinated people.

Chinhuei found that variant B.1.1.7, which is currently dominant in Oregon, is twice as contagious as the original variety. He told journalists, “I’m really concerned that the people who are hestitant vaccines have a lot of overlap with the people who don’t use them. I don’t want to wear masks. “

Tyler agreed and told journalists that variant B.1.1.7 had spread quickly and was now present in sewage from 92% of Oregon counties.

“We saw this go from almost zero to 50% in two months. I think there is a very significant risk for people who are not vaccinated and who take their mask off,” Tyler said.

Another problem is that the US is creating the conditions for the development of variants.

“When you have a mixed population where some people are vaccinated and others are not, you eventually created a situation where the virus becomes resistant to the vaccines,” Tyler said.

Chinhuei said another concern is that vaccination cards will be forged and that the cards will show dates of birth. He said he believed it would be better for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create a digital map that people could show on their phones, which would eliminate the date of birth information.

“It should be a safer thing that can better protect our privacy,” said Chinhuei.

Nationwide there were 199,784 cases and 2,639 deaths on Wednesday. Nationwide, there were 33.1 million confirmed cases and 592,501 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The second resolution introduced by Berschauer sees itself as the protection of civil rights. It relies on the Disabled Americans Act and the state’s prohibitions on discrimination based on religion or age.

It is argued that “vaccination status is inextricably linked to other protected classes including, but not limited to, disability, religion, race, ethnicity, and military service” and that “Yamhill County’s residents and employees should not violate their civil rights a nationwide, temporary emergency order. “

The resolution also opposes employers who make vaccinations a condition of employment and bullying in the workplace because of vaccinations or masks.

Berschauer said she thinks it is important because “companies have resources; They are instructed by chambers and others to seek their own legal counsel. How many small businesses do you know that have legal assistance on their speed dial? Not many. Most of our small mom and pop businesses don’t have access to it. … ”

Kulla said: “I don’t want this to be a document that someone is holding in their hand and saying, look, this is my legal advice.” District councilor Christian Boenisch agreed and told the commissioners: “I just want to make sure that all are clear. This is not legal advice. We cannot offer legal advice to citizens. Generally this is for informational purposes only. If anyone has any questions about the law or the legality of any of these areas, they should consult their own legal counsel. “

Starrett and Berschauer then said they wouldn’t offer legal advice, but Kulla argued that to people it feels or sounds like legal advice from elected officials.

Starrett said she disagreed.

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