‘I will willfully go to jail’: Maury County mayor voices defiance of vaccine mandate for county employees
As the U.S. Supreme Court continues to review a federal vaccine mandate, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles said he will not force county employees to comply if the federal requirement becomes law.
An initial stage of President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate, reflected by a new policy issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, began this week for companies with more than 100 employees as the mandate continues to be challenged in the Supreme Court.
Ogles sent an email to Maury County employees on Monday stating his position about the vaccine mandate under review that would require all employees at businesses with 100 employees or more to get vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 weekly.
“Maury County Government will not comply with any OSHA mandate that forces an employee to be vaccinated against their will,” Ogles said in the email.
The outspoken Republican emphasized that he is not against vaccination for the virus but opposes the OSHA mandate.
“Your healthcare is your business, and I will willfully go to jail before forcing any of you to take the vaccine,” Ogles said.
Members of the public held a protest in November outside Maury Regional Medical Center in opposition to another separate federal mandate, requiring all health care workers to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
More:Ogles issues State of Emergency in Maury County in response to federal vaccine mandates
Ogles, alongside other Republican leaders from the region, issued via Facebook Live a symbolic State of Emergency in Maury County in an effort to "secure the liberties" of health care workers in the county.
The order was in direct response to the federal mandate, requiring health care providers that receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funding to have all staff members vaccinated for COVID-19.
“I along with HR are keeping a close watch on the Supreme Court and their decision,” Ogles said.
Amid the ongoing pandemic, the conservative mayor has grown an online following with several announcements and other live broadcasts shared on his Facebook page.
Ogles, who also serves as chairman of the Maury County Republican Party, has consistently voiced uniform opposition to mandates set in place amid the pandemic, opposing restrictions on businesses and county mask mandates early during the pandemic, now opposing vaccination requirements.
Last week, a majority of the Supreme Court signaled Friday it is skeptical of the Biden administration's authority to require millions of Americans who work for large companies to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing.
On Dec. 17, Cincinnati-based U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit lifted a previous stay on OSHA's mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations or testing set by the 5th Circuit Court, which reinstated the mandate for companies with over 100 employees, while OSHA allowed employers until Jan. 10 to come into compliance. A message posted on the OSHA website says the administration will not issue citations for noncompliance with COVID-19 testing requirements before Feb. 9.
Ogles' letter to Maury County employees, reads in full as follows:
Regarding the OSHA vaccine mandate and pending Supreme Court case:
On December 17th a divided Sixth Circuit vacated a stay of the OSHA rule. Plaintiffs challenging the OSHA mandate have asked the Supreme Court to re-impose the stay; arguments in the case were heard this past Friday Jan 7th. Absent a stay from the Supreme Court later this week, OSHA will once again try and enforce their mandate.
That said, Maury County Government will not comply with any OSHA mandate that forces an employee to be vaccinated against their will. It should be noted that I am not anti-vaccine, but your healthcare is your business and I will willfully go to jail before forcing any of you to take the vaccine.
I along with HR are keeping a close watch on the Supreme Court and their decision; we will update you once we have further information.
Reach Mike Christen at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MikeChristenCDH and on Instagram at @michaelmarco. Please consider supporting his work and that of other Daily Herald journalists by subscribing to the publication.