Vaccine and testing requirements for Fresno City employees debated by council

Coronavirus

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – The possibility of requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for city employees, or requiring weekly testing, was considered Thursday by members of Fresno City Council and Mayor Jerry Dyer.

It comes after California – and major cities like Los Angeles – issued orders saying state and city employees must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or undergo weekly testing.

According to the Fresno County Department of Public Health, about 58% of eligible residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. According to one Fresno City Councilmember, the vaccination rate among Fresno’s city employees is low.

At Thursday’s council meeting, Councilmember Miguel Arias pitched the idea to get more city employees vaccinated.

“In my view, it’s disgusting when only a quarter of your employees that are essential to the running of the city have been vaccinated,” Arias said to Dyer. “I’m hoping the city staff and the mayor figure out a way to work that. If not, this council will have no other options but to consider mandating vaccines.”

In response, Dyer said a vaccination mandate is out of the question right now due to legal hurdles, because all COVID-19 vaccines in use only have emergency-use authorization by the FDA.

“We have a legal opinion that says we are not able to as a city to mandate vaccines for employees at this point in time until we receive formal FDA approval,” Dyer said.

Arias says he intends to recommend formally to the council that city employees show proof of vaccination or take a weekly COVID-19 test. Councilmember Garry Bredefeld says he’s strongly opposed to any sort of mandate or health order by the city to its employees.

“Governments shouldn’t be telling people what to do and what to put into their bodies,” Bredefeld said. “They just shouldn’t be doing it and we certainly shouldn’t be doing it here at the city of Fresno.”

Fresno city officials say they have a meeting planned with the county health department to determine the best course of action.

KSEE24 News reached out to the Fresno County Department of Public Health for comment and a spokesperson said the matter will be addressed in a media briefing on Friday.

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