Leesburg Town Hall

Leesburg Town Hall

As the clock ticks down for Leesburg employees to either be vaccinated against COVID-19, obtain a religious or medical exemption, or lose their jobs, Councilwoman Suzanne Fox unsuccessfully attempted to have the mandate rescinded during a meeting that saw 13 residents speak out against the town’s order Tuesday night.

“You are putting people out of work, people who are essential to the running of this town,” resident Michael Miller said. “Are you willing to stand for the rights of our citizens or are you going to take them away?”

The council passed the COVID-19 vaccine mandate on Oct. 12. Town employees and appointed officials must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 11, 2022, unless they have a religious or medical exemption, which will require weekly testing.

Town staff reported statistics to the council Monday detailing the vaccination status of all full- and part-time employees, as well as board and commission members, totaling 891 individuals. Of those who have reported their vaccination status, 77.7 percent are fully vaccinated.

There are 106 individuals who are not vaccinated. Of that group, 51 are requesting medical or religious exemptions, and 18 indicated they intend to be vaccinated. Only five employees, or 0.56%, have stated that they do not intend to get vaccinated or seek an exemption. Another 32 are as yet undecided.

Betsy Arnett, the town’s public information officer, told the Times-Mirror that no employees have resigned over the mandate at this time.

Fox asked to add the motion to rescind the vaccine mandate at the end of the Oct. 26 meeting. Council members can add some agenda items to future meetings without the need of a vote.

At the beginning of the Nov. 9 meeting, Councilman Neil Steinberg moved to cut Fox’s agenda item and instead have Town Attorney Chris Spera explain the new guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Steinberg’s motion passed 5-2, with only Fox and Councilwoman Kari Nacy voting to keep the scheduled vote.

“To be honest, I pretty much expected that my esteemed colleagues on the council would pull something like this,” Fox said. “If I were in their shoes, I know I certainly would not want to have to defend this problematic policy again.”

Spera told the council that according to OSHA regulations, all employers with at least 100 employees can either require all staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or alternately require unvaccinated staff to submit to weekly testing if they obtain an exemption.

Fox asked Spera if the stay on the OSHA regulations ordered by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals would impact Leesburg. Spera responded that because Virginia is in the Fourth Circuit, the stay does not apply. However, according to several national news outlets, the language of the temporary stay applies nationwide.

Nacy asked Spera what would happen to terminated employees if the OSHA vaccine requirement were overturned after January 2022, and if any changes newly appointed governor Glenn Youngkin could make would affect Leesburg’s mandate. Spera said that while he didn’t know what would happen to terminated employees were the OSHA regulations to be overturned, currently the OSHA regulations are designed to override any state laws.

“The federal mandate is designed to be impervious to local variations,” Spera said.

Of the residents who spoke, several were currently unvaccinated board members or town employee, such as newly appointed Thomas Balch Library Commissioner Paul Coyer.

Many expressed anger or cited controversial anti-vaccine data in an attempt to persuade the council to prioritize residents’ individual freedoms.

“You have hijacked the doctor-patient relationship and replaced it with paternalism,” Jenny Hall said during public comment. “This is about freedom over coercion… We the people hold power over their own health.”

Fox will again try to rescind the vaccine mandate at the Nov. 23 meeting. She asked to add the item to the agenda at the end of Monday night’s meeting.

“I believe that as we get access to more and more data regarding COVID and the COVID vaccine, and as we get more clarity on the legal issues around the federal mandate and forced vaccinations, and as more employees speak up about their anger over this policy,” Fox said, “I believe that the policy will become less and less defensible over the next couple of months, to the extent that we will be forced to re-examine our position.”

According to Mayor Kelly Burk, the majority of the council doesn’t plan to re-examine the vaccine mandate anytime soon.

“I’m very proud of the stand that council took on this decision,” Burk said. “This is a public health issue.”

(2) comments


Wouldn't it be nice if a strong woman was Mayor instead of a toady.

J Smith

As time goes on, we learn more and more about the vaccine and COVID. Members of the town council who are unwilling to reconsider their position on the vaccine and COVID in light of the latest information are unsuited, in my opinion, to represent the people of Leesburg.

What do we know about the vaccine and COVID?

We know from the CDC that there is a 99.98% chance of survival if you get COVID and are 49 or under. Better survival odds than if you were to get the flu.

Here’s the COVID survival rate for all age groups:

0-19 years 99.997%

20-49 years 99.98%

50-69 years 99.5%

70+ years 94.6%

We also know that the vaccine has the potential for side effects. Those side effects include:



Heart attack




According to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, over 18,000 people in the US have died from taking the vaccine.



We know that the vaccine won’t keep you getting COVID and it won’t keep you from transmitting COVID. It may help you have milder symptoms, if you get COVID.

So, it’s not a vaccine. It’s a therapeutic.

We also know that the “vaccine” doesn’t provide protection for very long. That’s why booster shots have been developed. That means that everyone who is double vaxxed, will soon not be "vaxxed" because their vax will have worn off and they will be required to get a booster.

Is the town council ready to mandate that every town employee must commit to receiving COVID booster shots for as long as they are a town employee? If the council is mandating COVID shots to protect against COVID, then to be consistent, they would have to mandate that every employee also get all booster shots.

If you’re a town employee and got vaxxed, are you up for getting a COVID booster shot every six months or so for as long as you’re an employee?

But the bottom-line is why would a town council mandate that town employees get “vaccinated” or lose their jobs when the survival rate of the COVID is +99% and there are risks of serious side effects if you do get vaccinated?

That’s not rational.

Getting a COVID shot should be a personal choice not a mandate.

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