City Council Discusses Possible COVID-19 Vaccine/Testing Requirement for City Employees

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Moderna Vaccine is prepared into a syringe ready to be dispensed. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

On August 10th at 6 P.M., Burbank City Council convened for a regularly scheduled meeting.

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Due to the on-going and rapid spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant throughout Los Angeles County and the rest of the country, Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes proposed during the last meeting that city staff consider implementing a requirement for city employees to either be vaccinated or to get tested regularly and wear a mask. In complying with the Vice Mayor’s request, Management Services Director Betsy McClinton reported on the efficacy and possibility of implementing such a policy in Burbank.

“In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, several California public agencies have started the process of creating and implementing vaccination and testing policies” said McClinton. “Nine public agencies have implemented these measures so far, including the state of California, Los Angeles County, the city of Los Angeles, the city of Pasadena and the city of Long Beach.”

Following McClinton’s report, the City Council deliberated over the topic.

Although there was near universal agreement over the necessity of implementing the requirements, there was some confusion as to what the Vice Mayor’s specific proposal was.

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“I do not support a vaccine mandate for city employees,” said Councilman Konstantine Anthony. In agreement with Councilman Anthony, Mayor Bob Frutos added, “We as a City Council don’t have the right to tell citizens what to put into their bodies.”

However, it was clarified by both Vice Mayor Talamantes and Councilman Nick Schultz that the Vice Mayor’s proposal was not to mandate city employees to either get the shot or face unemployment.

“As I understand it, your proposal Mr. Vice Mayor is to create a requirement for city employees to either get the vaccine or to get regularly tested and wear a mask while at work. Is that correct?” asked Councilman Schultz. “You took the words right out of my mouth,” replied the Vice Mayor.

Despite the clarification, the City Council unanimously decided to further look into and refine a requirement policy before actually implementing anything. The Council passed a motion 5-0 to further refine the policy and to work out special exceptions to the requirement where they may arise.

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