Protesters in Olympia say they ‘will not comply’ with COVID mandates

Aug 22, 2021, 1:47 PM | Updated: Aug 23, 2021, 11:04 am
protest, mandate...
People protest COVID mandates in Olympia on Aug. 22, 2021. (KIRO Radio, Hanna Scott)
(KIRO Radio, Hanna Scott)

Over 100 people gathered at the state Capitol in Olympia on Sunday to protest Governor Inslee’s mask mandate and mandatory vaccine orders for certain state workers, as well as health care and K-12 workers.

Washington’s new mask mandate takes effect Monday

The crowd held signs that read, “I will not comply,” “Liberty over Tyranny,” and “Recall Inslee,” among others. Many in the crowd were health care workers who say the vaccine is too new to be safe. Others say they worry about the impact to their children — both how potential side effects to the vaccine might impact them long-term, and the loss of their rights into the future.

CDC: How COVID-19 vaccines work

Governor Inslee, the state secretary of health, and medical officers across the state have said all people should mask up or the delta variant will continue to spread and overwhelm hospitals. Medical workers at the rally contend the only reason hospitals would be overwhelmed will be due to staff shortages when staff are out of a job due to mandated vaccinations — whether that’s because they leave due to the mandate, or lose their jobs if they refuse to comply.

All 35 county health officials in Washington say the dramatic spike in COVID cases in the state in recent weeks is being fueled by the much more transmissible delta variant, and due to roughly 30% of people in Washington not being vaccinated. They warn the spike will continue without an increase in vaccination rates and could lead to even more restrictions.

While many protesters in Olympia said the mandates from Inslee are an overreach and abuse of power, multiple court rulings since the start of the pandemic have upheld Inslee’s authority and that of public health officials during the public health emergency.

Constitutional rights

There is no constitutional right in jeopardy under a vaccinate mandate. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1905 during the Jacobson v. Massachusetts case, to uphold the authority of states to enact a compulsory vaccination laws. 

Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has addressed that it’s legal under federal law for companies to require employees get vaccinated before entering the workplace. Exceptions are made for pregnancy, religious beliefs. and health complications. 

The EEO states: “The federal EEO laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, subject to the reasonable accommodation provisions of Title VII and the ADA and other EEO considerations.” 

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Protesters in Olympia say they ‘will not comply’ with COVID mandates