Withdrawal of the “Public Health Protections Emergency Amendment Act of 2022”
Council of the District of Columbia
OFFICE OF COUNCILMEMBER BRIANNE K. NADEAU
Earlier this week the Council, and the public, were blindsided by the Mayor’s decision to rescind her order requiring proof of vaccination in certain establishments and facilities. In response, I heard from parents, workers, residents who are immunocompromised, and many others who simply believe it is too soon to make this change.
Unfortunately, although I do believe we might have garnered the support of a majority of the Council on this legislation, we did not have a path to the nine votes needed to pass an emergency measure. I want to thank all those who advocated in support of the emergency measure.
Too often lately the Council has become engaged in political battles with the Mayor over what I believe to be common sense measures and good policy. All we are asking for is some transparency and dialogue during one of the most critical moments in the history of our city.
I still believe that reinstating the proof of vaccination requirement for certain establishments and facilities is the best way to protect public health and safety. I believe that it is the best way to protect our immunocompromised neighbors, children under five, and even the ninety-three percent of District residents who have received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. I strongly encourage businesses to keep this protection in place for their workers and patrons. I truly believe that patrons will choose to spend their money in the places they feel protected. If the Washington Post poll is any indication, then 74 percent of residents who support the requirement will have your back.
I want to say a bit more about why I feel reinstating the vaccine requirement is critical right now. The Executive has withdrawn this requirement when meaningful protection for children and people who are immunocompromised is just on the horizon. In a few months, all of us will be able to receive an antiviral treatment that is 90 percent effective at preventing hospitalization and death, even if we can’t get vaccinated or have weakened immune systems. In a few months, it is likely that our youngest children will finally be able to get vaccinated.
The Executive, however, has also withdrawn this protection at a time when seventy-four percent of Washingtonians want the requirement to remain in place—and when they have good reasons for doing so. Cases are stuck at their pre-Omicron peak, two out of the six metrics tracked by D.C. Health are worsening, and residents in their fifties are still dying. The District’s State Epidemiologist opined just last week that the District was “nowhere near” ready to reopen, and stated that restaurants and bars remain the main source of community spread.
That’s why we have heard from residents from every ward and every walk of life that the proof of vaccination requirement remains common sense. The restaurant workers who have to face unvaccinated out-of-state customers want it. The parents who have to make tough decisions every day about what risks to take with their young children want it. Residents in their twenties still suffering from long COVID want others to avoid their pain, and the residents who passed away saying goodbye to their loved ones on FaceTime would want it if their voices could be heard.
I am disappointed, but I am not deterred. I will continue to engage in the hard work of making the District safer, healthier, and fairer. I want to thank the Councilmembers who stood with me, and with our most vulnerable neighbors.
I implore the Mayor to do the right thing. I implore her to stand up for workers, for young people, for sick people, and for all those whose voices have been drowned out in this conversation by those of lobbyists.
I implore her to follow her constituents, to follow her conscience, and to follow the science.