State Watch

LA County sheriff warns of ‘mass exodus’ over vaccine mandate

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva warned last week that the county’s vaccine mandate will cause a “mass exodus” among his employees, claiming that this reaction poses a threat to public safety.

In a letter to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Villanueva claimed that he stood to potentially lose 44 percent of his workforce in one day if he enforces the vaccine mandate that was ratified in August.

In his letter, he stated that he could not enforce “reckless mandates that put the public’s safety at risk” and criticized the board for defunding his department.

“For the entire course of this pandemic and prior to any vaccination being available, my employees worked tirelessly to fulfill their commitment to public safety by continuing to answer calls for service, maintaining safe jails, and even assisting to vaccinate our most vulnerable at-risk community members,” the sheriff wrote, adding that it has been “heartbreaking” that his personnel was now being threatened with termination after having been called “heroes” earlier in the pandemic.

“Compounding this issue is the fact my Department is experiencing a mass exodus of employees who are retiring early,” Villanueva wrote. “I currently have 1,605 employees that have 28 years of service or more. This means that they could retire without financial consequence. This mandate would certainly expedite many of these employees decision to retire.”

He warned that these issues could potentially force him to take “drastic measures” such as reducing services to LA County. Villanueva argued that there were alternatives to vaccine mandates, such as mask mandates and regular COVID-19 testing.

“With the pandemic waning, there is no justification for your mandate. This mandate is like putting up storm windows after the storm has passed,” he wrote.

Los Angeles County’s vaccine mandate for public workers required that they show proof of full vaccination by Oct. 1. Employees who are not approved for a medical or religious exemption and refuse to get vaccinated risk being discharged.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, nearly 80 percent of residents aged 12 and up have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine so far.

Tags Alex Villanueva COVID-19 vaccine mandates Los Angeles County Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department United States responses to the COVID-19 pandemic

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