Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
WASHINGTON — Members of the Washington County Board of Supervisors said they intended to resist a federal vaccine mandate for employers of over 100, of which the county is one.
While the mandate is held up for now by legal challenges, Board Chair Richard Young said it was important to start the conversation.
“We do have 100 or more employees in the county I believe, and I just want us to be aware, keep looking at this,” he said. “I just want people to think about this. What happens if we have to enforce this mandate, which I’m not in favor of.”
Board Member Jack Seward Jr. said he strongly opposed the rule, which clashes with a state law passed in late October that would allow workers to opt out of vaccine mandates.
“Does a rule or regulation by a bureau or a department at the federal level supersede a law that’s passed by a legislature and signed into law by a governor? Where is the supremacy there?” he said. “I’m not even going to bet on how this is going to turn out, but it’s just an overreach, and I’ll say it’s tyrannical by the federal government.”
Seward stressed that his problem was not with the vaccine, but with the mandate itself.
“I, like Richard, am not anti-vax,” he said. “I OK’d my father in a nursing home to have one as soon as he could get it. I assisted with the vaccine clinics here in the county a couple of different times. It’s a personal decision, that’s all there is to it.”
Board Member Stan Stoops said the county should resist the order if it takes effect.
“A young fellow, he’s a county employee, he said, ‘That will be my last day at the county if I’m forced to do that because I’m not going to do it,’” he said. “I appreciate that, and I’m going to fight it too. I do not want to be told I have to do this.”
It’s not clear what the county could do to resist such a mandate.
Interim Public Health Director Chris Estle said vaccination rules tied to federal medical payments would functionally require compliance for several departments.
“The centers for Medicare and Medicaid, they’re having a set of rules that we are all going to have to follow as a recipient of funds,” she said. “That means regardless of what the county moves forward with or does not move forward with, we as Washington County Public Health and Home Care have to follow those rules if we want to receive and we want to be able to bill Medicare, Medicaid, V.A.”
For now, the county can do nothing but wait on the legal outcome.
“We can leave it on as an agenda item, but for today we’ll just move on and discuss it later,” Young said.