NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, August 9th, 2021

COVID-19 Update: Governments at every level begin rolling out vaccine mandates

It’s time for anoth­er install­ment of of our spe­cial series COVID-19 Update, bring­ing you the lat­est devel­op­ments on the nov­el coro­n­avirus out­break that pub­lic health author­i­ties here and across the coun­try are work­ing to mitigate.

Today, gov­ern­ments at every lev­el began rolling out the first of what will be a new series of vac­cine man­dates, begin­ning with peo­ple who are employed in the pub­lic sec­tor. The Depart­ment of Defense, with the White House­’s back­ing, was the first out of the door with an impor­tant announcement.

Federal

Sec­re­tary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced in a mes­sage to the force that ser­vice­mem­bers will need to be vac­ci­nat­ed against COVID-19 by either about one month from now or soon­er if the FDA brings one or more vac­cines out of emer­gency approval sta­tus and into nor­mal approval status.

“As many of you know, Pres­i­dent Biden asked me to con­sid­er how and when we might add the coro­n­avirus dis­ease 2019 (COVID-19) vac­cines to the list of those required for all Ser­vice mem­bers,” said Austin’s bulletin.

“So, over the last week, I have con­sult­ed close­ly with the Chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Sec­re­taries of the Mil­i­tary Depart­ments, the Ser­vice Chiefs, and med­ical pro­fes­sion­als,” Austin continued.

“I appre­ci­ate great­ly the advice and coun­sel they pro­vid­ed. Based on these con­sul­ta­tions and on addi­tion­al dis­cus­sions with lead­ers of the White House COVID Task Force, I want you to know that I will seek the Pres­i­den­t’s approval to make the vac­cines manda­to­ry no lat­er than mid-Sep­tem­ber, or imme­di­ate­ly upon the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA) licen­sure, whichev­er comes first.”

“I strong­ly sup­port Sec­re­tary Austin’s mes­sage to the force today on the Depart­ment of Defense’s plan to add the COVID-19 vac­cine to the list of required vac­ci­na­tions for our ser­vice mem­bers not lat­er than mid-Sep­tem­ber,” said Pres­i­dent Joe Biden fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of the bulletin.

“Sec­re­tary Austin and I share an unshak­able com­mit­ment to mak­ing sure our troops have every tool they need to do their jobs as safe­ly as possible.”

“These vac­cines will save lives. Peri­od. They are safe. They are effec­tive. Over 350 mil­lion shots have been giv­en in the Unit­ed States alone. Being vac­ci­nat­ed will enable our ser­vice mem­bers to stay healthy, to bet­ter pro­tect their fam­i­lies, and to ensure that our force is ready to oper­ate any­where in the world.”

“We can­not let up in the fight against COVID-19, espe­cial­ly with the Delta vari­ant spread­ing rapid­ly through unvac­ci­nat­ed pop­u­la­tions. We are still on a wartime foot­ing, and every Amer­i­can who is eli­gi­ble should take imme­di­ate steps to get vac­ci­nat­ed right away. I am proud that our mil­i­tary women and men will con­tin­ue to help lead the charge in the fight against this pan­dem­ic, as they so often do, by set­ting the exam­ple of keep­ing their fel­low Amer­i­cans safe.”

State

A few hours lat­er, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee announced that Wash­ing­ton State will require most pub­lic employ­ees to be vac­ci­nat­ed against COVID-19.

If they refuse, they will be out of a job.

“Get­ting vac­ci­nat­ed against COVID is a pub­lic good. We have come so close to defeat­ing this dead­ly dis­ease,” Inslee said at a press conference.

“We have the tool — the vac­cine — to get this era behind us. It is safe, it is effec­tive, and you will nev­er regret get­ting it.”

The Gov­er­nor opt­ed to use his broad emer­gency pow­ers to deploy the man­date, issu­ing a procla­ma­tion that can be read in its entire­ty below:

Gov­er­nor Inslee’s procla­ma­tion on requir­ing vaccinations

Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­isla­tive lead­ers say they sup­port the move.

“Pro­tect­ing the health and safe­ty of peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties in our state was a top pri­or­i­ty of the legislature’s work this ses­sion, and the governor’s announce­ment today is an impor­tant step in stop­ping the spread of the virus and its vari­ants,” said Speak­er Lau­rie Jink­ins and Major­i­ty Leader Andy Billig.

“Vac­cines are the best defense we have against COVID-19, and that’s why the Leg­is­la­ture put $1.2 bil­lion into mak­ing sure peo­ple have access to vac­cines, as well as con­tact trac­ing and test­ing efforts,” the lead­ers added.

“State employ­ees and health care providers serve the pub­lic. Being vac­ci­nat­ed with a safe, effec­tive vac­cine is a sim­ple exten­sion of that commitment.”

“We applaud the governor’s actions to keep Wash­ing­to­ni­ans safe. As leg­isla­tive lead­ers, we strong­ly encour­age our mem­bers and staff to get vac­ci­nat­ed, and will be con­sid­er­ing pos­si­ble addi­tion­al COVID safe­ty steps with­in the leg­isla­tive branch as we approach the next leg­isla­tive session.”

Local

King Coun­ty and the City of Seat­tle are mir­ror­ing Inslee’s move.

“A healthy King Coun­ty depends on every eli­gi­ble res­i­dent get­ting vac­ci­nat­ed. With the Delta vari­ant surg­ing, it is high time for every­one to do their part to pro­tect one anoth­er, our chil­dren and our econ­o­my,” said Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine. “Join­ing with the state and the City of Seat­tle, we’re help­ing close the vac­ci­na­tion gaps in our com­mu­ni­ty and our work­force, to get every­one across the fin­ish line and move our com­mu­ni­ty for­ward into recovery.”

“No patient should have to wor­ry about get­ting COVID-19 from their health care provider, peri­od,” said Jeff Duchin, King Coun­ty’s pub­lic health officer.

“Requir­ing COVID-19 vac­ci­na­tion for health care per­son­nel pro­tects not only patients and health care work­ers, but also their fam­i­lies and our com­mu­ni­ty — includ­ing those who can­not be vac­ci­nat­ed or do not respond to the vac­cine due to being immuno­com­pro­mised. I thank Gov­er­nor Inslee for tak­ing this impor­tant action as the threat of COVID-19 is increas­ing local­ly and nationally.”

“From the ini­tial days of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic to today, Gov­er­nor Inslee, Exec­u­tive Con­stan­tine and I believe in the impor­tance of speak­ing as one gov­ern­ment,” Seat­tle May­or Jen­ny Durkan said.

“So many small busi­ness­es have stepped up to require vac­cines and as some of Washington’s largest employ­ers, we are too. The spread of the delta vari­ant has required that we con­tin­ue to make deci­sions that are safe for our employ­ees, their fam­i­lies and our com­mu­ni­ty. There is no doubt that vac­cines work, and that they are our best defense against the high­ly con­ta­gious Delta variant.”

“Seat­tle has led the way by lis­ten­ing to our pub­lic health offi­cials- it’s why we have the low­est cas­es, hos­pi­tal­iza­tions and deaths of every major city. It is cru­cial that in our work­places where we work, eat, have meet­ings, and laugh togeth­er, we make sure we are doing what we can to keep our­selves and our col­leagues, our chil­dren and fam­i­lies, cus­tomers, and mem­bers of the pub­lic safe from seri­ous ill­ness, hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, or death from this virus.”

As men­tioned by Durkan, many busi­ness­es have already intro­duced their own vac­cine man­dates. Bars in Seat­tle and Port­land have begun requir­ing vac­ci­na­tion for entry in tan­dem so as to send a mes­sage to patrons and ensure that the unvac­ci­nat­ed aren’t able to sim­ply go some­where else and endan­ger others.

The hos­pi­tal­i­ty and enter­tain­ment indus­tries are mov­ing in the same direction.

Cruise lines, des­per­ate to get back to nor­mal sail­ing sched­ules, are requir­ing vac­ci­na­tions of their pas­sen­gers. Nor­weigan Cruise Lines today won a huge vic­to­ry over the anti-sci­ence, anti-pub­lic health regime of (un-)Governor Ron DeDan­tis when a fed­er­al dis­trict court judge barred Flori­da from enforc­ing its law against vac­cine pass­ports”. This will enable the cruise line to turn away any­one who isn’t vac­ci­nat­ed from its next sched­uled sail­ing out of Miami.

The mandates are necessary, and will save lives

This orga­ni­za­tion is rolling out a vac­cine man­date of its own as it pre­pares to resume in-per­son events. Any­one who wants to phys­i­cal­ly attend a North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute event, like our upcom­ing Eigh­teenth Anniver­sary Pic­nic, will need to be vac­ci­nat­ed. It’s a pol­i­cy that is in keep­ing with our values.

As pro­gres­sives, we believe in empa­thy, pro­tec­tion, and mutu­al respon­si­bil­i­ty… that we look out for each oth­er as well as our­selves. By get­ting vac­ci­nat­ed, we not only pro­tect our­selves from get­ting sick or dying, we pro­tect our fam­i­ly mem­bers, our neigh­bors, and our neigh­bors’ neigh­bors. Every­body wins.

This is a mat­ter of free­dom. To be free from this virus and free of the fear that accom­pa­nies it, we must act col­lec­tive­ly. The vac­cines are the best defense we have against SARS-CoV­‑2. They have been proven to be safe and effective.

We won’t see an end to this pan­dem­ic with­out wide­spread vaccination.

Peo­ple in oth­er coun­tries are sell­ing their pos­ses­sions so they can afford to buy vac­cines on the black mar­ket, yet here in Amer­i­ca, we have peo­ple who refuse to be vac­ci­nat­ed for free. That’s just absurd, espe­cial­ly giv­en that dos­es are on the verge of going to waste. It’s appar­ent that we’ve got­ten as far as we can with vol­un­tary vac­ci­na­tion cam­paigns. Now it’s time to take the next step to save lives.

The oth­er side can be expect­ed to howl about coer­cion and gov­ern­ment over­reach. But if there ever was a pub­lic pol­i­cy that could be char­ac­ter­ized as the epit­o­me of com­pas­sion­ate and life­sav­ing, this would be it.

Pret­ty much the entire­ty of human his­to­ry demon­strates that when we try to leave each oth­er to our own devices, bad things hap­pen. That is why we have laws. It is why we have a plan of gov­ern­ment with checks and bal­ances built in. And it’s why we now need to imple­ment vac­cine mandates.

Get­ting all of us pro­tect­ed against an incred­i­bly infec­tious dis­ease that ruth­less­ly maims and kills is arguably the most pro-life move ever. So let’s get it on.

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