The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will require county employees, including those of the Library Board of Trustees to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.
On Wednesday, the board voted on the measure with an 8-0-1 vote during the board’s business meeting. Supervisor Caleb Kershner (R-Catoctin) was absent for the vote.
No timetable was provided on when exactly requirements will be in place. Tim Hemstreet, county administrator, indicated his office will make the logistical arrangements.
“I don’t believe I have a right to tell someone that they have to put a shot in their body ... but if you don’t put a shot in your body, then you need to continue to wear your mask and get a COVID test every week,” said Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large).
“We cannot have people who are unvaccinated not knowing that they have COVID, not getting tested and not masked,” she said.
The item was not included on Wednesday’s business meeting agenda.
Supervisors Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) and Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) said they were concerned about how the action would be perceived, considering the item was not shared with the public before the meeting.
“This seems to just be a way of springing something on them that’s saying, ‘hey, if you don’t feel comfortable, if you haven’t already had yourself injected with this formula that we know has been rushed, then you’re going to have to get tested weekly,’” Buffington said.
Letourneau made a substitute motion to allow county staff to prepare the logistics and return to the board with the plans, but the motion failed with a 3-5 vote. Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg) and Buffington supported the motion.
Supervisor Juli Briskman (D-Algonkian) said President Joe Biden (D) and Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) have signaled such action would need to happen on a local level. She urged the board to consider moving forward.
“I think that the public health and safety of a global 100-year pandemic merits the urgency of getting this done as fast as possible,” Briskman said.
As part of the board’s direction, county staff will include in the policy medical and religious exemptions for employees.
Buffington made the request.
Constitutional officers will have the option to subject their employees to the policy, according to the motion. Officers include the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Sheriff, Treasurer, Clerk of the Circuit Court, and Commissioner of Revenue.
Erin McLellan, assistant county administrator, said the county staff’s vaccination rate is about 75 to 80%, about the same rate among all adults in Loudoun County.