In the Aug. 31 Board of Supervisor's meeting, Santa Barbara County enacted a COVID-19 vaccine mandate that will apply to all employees of the county.
The mandate passed with a vote of four to one. It states that by September 30, all county employees, including remote workers, must provide verification of their vaccination status.
Beginning Oct. 1, all employees that are not fully vaccinated will have to undergo COVID-19 testing once per week and provide proof to their employer. The tests will be provided by the county at no cost to employees.
The policy defines fully vaccinated individuals as people who have received their final COVID-19 vaccine dose over 2 weeks prior.
No unvaccinated person is exempt from the weekly testing, the policy says. Individuals who are unable to comply with the approved mandate can request ADA accommodation or submit a written request for exemption.
The written policy explains that if workers do not comply with the mandate, the county will begin "progressive attempts to bring employees into compliance." The action could go as far as dismissing an employee from his or her position.
Additionally, a county employee who refuses to comply with the policy will not be allowed to enter any county facility.
The Santa Barbara County policy says that an employee's vaccination status will remain confidential.
During the Board of Supervisors meeting, community members shared public comments both for and against the mandate.
Bobbi McGinnis, of Santa Barbara County, opposed the mandate as government overreach and a breach of privacy. Mark and Colleen Million, of Santa Maria, submitted a comment in favor of the vaccine mandate to "defend the health of the community."
County Supervisor Gregg Hart noted that the vaccination rate across Santa Barbara County is on par with that across California.
Hart commented on the Sept. 30 deadline, saying, "The timeline gives employees enough time to consult with their healthcare professionals while moving expeditiously to protect the health of employees and the public."