Lebanon considering legislation to prohibit vaccination mandates for city workers

Lebanon City Council began reviewing the applications and resumes of several residents who are interested in a six-month appointment to council. Council met in executive session Tuesday to discuss the applicants to complete former councilwoman Krista Wyatt's unexpired term. The city charter requires council to fill the vacancy within 30 days. ED RICHTER/STAFF
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Lebanon City Council began reviewing the applications and resumes of several residents who are interested in a six-month appointment to council. Council met in executive session Tuesday to discuss the applicants to complete former councilwoman Krista Wyatt's unexpired term. The city charter requires council to fill the vacancy within 30 days. ED RICHTER/STAFF

LEBANON — This week, Lebanon City Council will vote on an emergency ordinance that would prohibit any requirement for city workers to have a COVID-19 vaccination for employment or discriminating against Lebanon citizens based on their vaccination status.

At last week’s work session, council discussed the proposed ordinance that they believe will protect individual rights in connection with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. City officials are not aware of any other municipality taking such position, said City Manager Scott Brunka.

Mayor Amy Brewer supported the ordinance saying, “we have limited government. We have to take care of city employees and not impose on local businesses.

“I believe this is a good statement,” Brewer said. “This gives people the right to be able to make their own decisions.”

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Vote on the ordinance comes as for the first time since January, Ohio reported on Friday more than 9,000 daily cases of COVID-19. The last time Ohio surpassed 9,000 cases the state was during the state’s winter surge.

Friday’s daily cases were more than 1,000 cases more than 7,897 cases reported on Thursday, which was the state’s previous 21-day high.

In the last three weeks, Ohio is averaging 5,258 cases a day, according to ODH. It’s averaging 6,355 cases a day in the last week.

Ohio reported 134 deaths Friday, the most reported in the last three weeks. Death data can fluctuate because other states don’t regularly report death certificates to Ohio’s Bureau of Vital Statistics.

The proposed ordinance says city policy is to allow people to have the right to make their own healthcare decisions and to expect their privacy rights remain protected, specifically healthcare information.

The proposed ordinance also says the city will not implement any type of vaccine passport program or mandate, require or request someone obtain a vaccination. It also said an individuals have a right to expect that their healthcare choices shall not result in discriminatory treatment. The proposed ordinance said the policy will remain in effect in all circumstances, including emergencies.

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Council also is considering a resolution in support of healthcare workers, first responders, teachers and citizens’ individual rights during the COVID-19 pandemic “who are being coerced and threatened by an overreaching government.” It also supports an individual’s right whether or not to get vaccinated.

“We also demand the governor stop overreaching into the personal, protected spaces of businesses and property owners until the conclusion of a special session,” the proposed resolution says.

A second resolution also requests the Ohio Department of Health to revisit the quarantine guidelines.

Concerns listed in the council resolution include: The mental health of people that become socially isolating healthy people; Minimizing disruptions to the integrity of education, economic, civic, and social systems so people are not put into unnecessarily difficult situations to provide services, products and experiences; Healing distrust and anger in the community due to the “one-size fits all quarantine strategy being used; and supporting families and businesses that are disrupted when people get sent home for weeks at a time.

The resolution also supports the pilot program developed by the superintendents of Warren County to modify quarantine rules to keep more students in the classroom.

“It’s important to stand by the city of Lebanon,” Brewer said. “I do believe government has overstepped their boundaries by not allowing residents to make good decisions on their healthcare.”

Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Lebanon City Building.

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