LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Thursday he will not enforce the COVID-19 vaccine mandate on his deputies.
In early August, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors unanimously ratified an executive order requiring all county employees, regardless of department, to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1, with exemptions only for medical and religious purposes.
However, in a Facebook Live Thursday morning, Villanueva argued that he could not to lose a portion of his workforce with the department already facing purported budgetary constraints.
“No, I’m not forcing anyone,” he said in response to a question regarding whether he would enforce the mandate for his deputies. The issue has become so politicized. There are entire groups of employees that are willing to be fired and laid off for having to get vaccinated. So, I don’t want to be in a position to lose 5% or 10% of my workforce overnight over a vaccine mandate, while at the same time, I’m barebones with the funding effort. This is like the worst of two worlds right here. So we have to pick and choose.”
The issue of vaccine mandates has proved a divisive one among law enforcement agencies and fire department personnel. Last week, a Los Angeles Times report found that vaccination rates among L.A. police and fire department employees were well behind L.A. County residents.
All L.A. city employees are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 19. However, last month, city records showed that nearly 11% of L.A.’s over 57,400 city employees had stated their intent to seek a religious or medical exemption from this requirement. That included close to 3,000 LAPD employees.
This all comes as the L.A. City Council Wednesday approved a strict mandate that will require proof of full vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, gyms, shopping centers, nail salons and several other locations. It will take effect on or after Nov. 6.
An L.A. County mandate took effect at midnight Thursday, which requires proof of at least one dose of the vaccine to enter bars, clubs, breweries, and attend mega-events with 10,000 or more people, such as concerts, sporting events and theme parks. Proof of full vaccination will take effect Nov. 4.