Supervisors reject resolution declaring support for Israel
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — After hearing pleas from the public during the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting, District 1 Supervisor John Peschong made a motion to condemn the recent terrorist Hamas attacks on Israel. However, the motion failed by a 3-2 vote, with Supervisors Jimmy Paulding, Dawn Ortiz-Legg, and Bruce Gibson dissenting.
Paulding said that while he also condemns the actions, the current situation in Israel and Palestine is fluid, and the resolution may not be timely enough. He requested the supervisors’ public information officers collect statements from each supervisor for a press release. Peschong’s motion was voted down, and Paulding made a new motion for the statement press release, which passed unanimously.
Supervisor Debbie Arnold, however, did argue that she would rather see a formal resolution on the record.
“We can all make statements on the website, but I am in favor of a resolution in favor of Israel,” Arnold said.
During public comment of the same Tuesday, Oct. 17, meeting, residents issued concerns of a mandate recently issued by SLO County Public Health Director Dr. Penny Borenstein. The mandate came in a letter sent to health care workers on Sept. 21 and titled “Mandatory Influenza and COVID-19 Vaccination of Health Care Workers in San Luis Obispo County.”
Many of the residents spoke against the mandate order which reads:
Pursuant to Health Officer authority (CA Health & Safety Code §120175), I hereby order all healthcare facilities/organizations to adopt and implement a policy to require that all HCWs receive the annual influenza vaccine and remain up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccination (receive at least one dose of an updated 2023-24 COVID-19 vaccine) OR sign a written declination and wear a surgical mask or higher-level respirator (e.g., N95, KN95, KF94) with good fit while on duty during respiratory illness season.
Duration of Order
Unless and until rescinded, this Order applies during each influenza season, defined as November 1 to April 30 of the following year. If surveillance data in a particular year demonstrate that the peak season is different from these dates, this time period may be amended by a further order.
Facilities/Organizations Subject to Order
This Order applies to San Luis Obispo County hospitals, community clinics, physician offices, ambulatory care centers, long-term care facilities and emergency medical services providers.
Definition of HCWs
For this requirement, “health care workers” or “HCWs” are people, paid or unpaid, who work in indoor settings where (1) care is provided to patients or (2) patients have access for any purpose.
Also within the letter, Borenstein says that those who decline to vaccinate must wear “wear adequate respiratory protection throughout the season.”
Peschong did make a motion, seconded by Arnold, asking to bring the mandate back to the board as an agendized item to discuss.
Arnold also expressed she wanted to see the mandate come to the board for discussion saying, “I first learned of the letter after it went out.”
She also wanted to discuss the board’s political process for allowing Borenstein to make such a mandate.
In Borenstein’s September letter, she says the mandate is being issued because, “The best way to attain our shared goal of preventing transmission of influenza and COVID-19, particularly in healthcare settings, is to mandate vaccination during the season in which respiratory illness typically peaks (“influenza season”). While COVID-19 does not yet have predictable seasonality, this is the season in which the combined burden of all respiratory diseases typically places the greatest strain on healthcare systems.”
The order applies specifically to SLO County hospitals, community clinics, physician offices, long-term care facilities, and emergency medical services providers. Borenstein also called for health care facilities and organizations to adopt and implement a policy for all health care workers to receive the annual influenza vaccine and remain up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccination.
In regards to Peschong’s motion, Gibson stated that he felt it would not be a productive use of the board’s time. The motion failed, with Gibson, Ortiz-Legg, and Paulding dissenting.
The next San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 31, at 9 a.m.