[BenIndy Editor: Note that the Board never even addressed Supervisor Brown’s request for a countywide indoors mask mandate like we established here in Benicia and Vallejo. Benicia and Vallejo are clearly on our own here in Solano County. Concerned up-county residents should consider shopping and doing business down here in Benicia/Vallejo. And Solano employees might want to start looking for a new job! – R.S.]
Divided board won’t mandate vaccines for Solano employees
County workers must adhere to mask policies in communities where they work
Fairfield Daily Republic, By Todd R. Hansen, September 15, 2021
FAIRFIELD — Solano County employees will not be required to get Covid-19 vaccinations, but will have to honor mask requirements in city jurisdictions that have them.
Benicia and Vallejo temporarily require everyone – vaccinated or not – to wear a mask in indoor public places. The state has the same mandate for individuals who are not vaccinated.
Masks are required in all medical facilities, and in schools.
Benicia Mayor Steve Young was one of 17 individuals who called into the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday. The county also received more than 100 written correspondences, two-thirds of which opposed the policies. The callers were slightly weighted in the other direction.
Young urged the board to enact its own mask mandate, though that issue was never formally up for consideration.
A county mask mandate for public indoor places was expected to be one of two issues considered by the board, but Supervisor Erin Hannigan, who had raised the mask requirement and the county vaccination mandate, backed off the full mask mandate in favor of requiring that county employees adhere to the rules of other jurisdictions.
The new mandate mostly affects county employees who work at county buildings in Vallejo. The board supported the policy on a 4-1 vote with board Chairman John Vasquez dissenting without comment.
The supervisors voted 2-3, with Vasquez, Supervisor Jim Spering and Supervisor Mitch Mashburn in the majority, to defeat Hannigan’s motion to mandate vaccinations for county employees and contractors. Supervisor Monica Brown supported the action.
“The only way we are going to get out of this pandemic is everyone get vaccinated,” Hannigan said.
Those who argued against the vaccines for county employees, also largely argued against the mask requirement, framing the issues as ones of personal freedoms and choice.
Some took great exception to anyone telling them what they must inject into their bodies. Others were less forceful, and even noted they, too, had been vaccinated, but were in no position to tell others what to do, and strongly believe government should stay out of personal medical decisions.
But Corianne Tunstall, a local hairdresser, said those “personal decisions” do not only affect those individuals, as she is frequently exposed to clients who have not been vaccinated, and who refuse to wear masks even though state law requires them to do so.
She told the board she could not afford to get sick and miss work, and felt it was wrong that others could choose to expose her and she could, in turn, expose her family.
Others who supported the policies included Dr. Seth Kaufman, chief medical officer at NorthBay Healthcare. He called the vaccines and masks critical pieces in the fight against Covid-19.
“We are off the charts on the number of patients we are seeing,” Kaufman said. “Our hospitals are full; our clinics are overflowing with Covid patients.”
The public discussion followed a Covid-19 status update by Dr. Bela Matyas, the county public health officer.
He told the board that the county is emerging from the latest Covid surge that started shortly after July 4, and that includes lower number of individuals being hospitalized.
Matyas reiterated his position that a mask policy will be ineffective because the data show transmission is not taking place in public settings, but rather at private social gatherings and at home. He noted that the vast majority of counties that have mask mandates are not seeing their disease rates fall like they should if the policy worked.
However, he also reiterated his position that the best way to defeat Covid-19 is to get vaccinated.
About 64% of the residents 12 or older have been fully vaccinated, while 76% have received at least one shot. That leaves about 135,000 residents who are eligible for vaccines who have not been innoculated, Matyas said.
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data Friday that indicate people who are unvaccinated who contract Covid-19 are 11 times more likely to die than are those who are vaccinated.