A California sheriff says he won't enforce a coronavirus vaccine mandate for his employees.
In a statement on Monday, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco defended his stance on vaccine requirements ahead of a “local newspaper” publishing a story about one of his podcast episodes that delved into his thoughts on the public health mandate.
Bianco did not name the newspaper or reference the story.
“Over the past couple of weeks, the idea of forced vaccination has caused much concern across the entire country,” Bianco said. “To repeat the context of the podcast, I will not enforce the mandates.”
“I am certainly not anti-vaccine. I am anti-vaccine for me. That decision should be made in consultation with your doctor after discussing the potential benefit and potential negative side effects," he continued.
In a follow-up statement on Tuesday, Bianco defended his policies after the “local paper” allegedly ran a story claiming that he does not follow state mandates requiring COVID-19 testing in certain settings, like jails.
“We have extensive internal protocols and regulations which follow the state order requiring employees to either voluntarily report their vaccination status, obtain either a religious or medical exemption, or they will be tested regularly in compliance with state regulations,” Bianco said.
Riverside County has not imposed any formal vaccine mandates on employees but is following all state orders requiring vaccinations for workers in specific settings, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Riverside County spokeswoman Brooke Federico told the newspaper that all sheriff's department employees who are currently required to be vaccinated by the state have been and that those who are exempt are being tested regularly.
“We are actively working with all county departments impacted by the state’s vaccine mandates to ensure compliance,” Federico told the newspaper.
In the past, Bianco has been critical of pandemic policies. Last year, Bianco made headlines after saying he wouldn’t enforce stay-at-home orders because it is “time to get back opening up.”
On his podcast, Bianco said about 1,500 of his employees have test positive for COVID-19 and recovered. He didn’t know how many were vaccinated.