Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco has declared that he will be defying Governor Newsom’s covid vaccine mandate.
During a recent podcast and video posted on his department’s Facebook page, Bianco expressed doubts about the vaccine’s effectiveness and the threat posed by the pandemic. He added that it was not the role of government to keep people healthy.
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“Over the past couple of weeks, the idea of forced vaccination has caused much concern across the entire country,” Bianco said “I will not enforce the vaccine mandate on Sheriff’s Department employees.”
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“The government has no ability and no authority to mandate your health choices,” he added. “As your sheriff, I have an obligation to guard your liberty and freedom.”
PE reports: Richard Carpiano, a public health expert and professor of public policy at UC Riverside, said Bianco’s comments are part of a pattern of misinformation and ignorance from the sheriff, whose arguments mirror those of anti-vaccine activists and science deniers.
If Bianco weren’t sheriff, “I guess it would be easy to laugh and blow (his comments) off,” Carpiano said. But given his authority — he leads Riverside County’s largest law enforcement agency and oversees five jails and county courthouse security — “to say that (his comments are) just irresponsible and a dereliction of duty would be an understatement.”
In an emailed statement, Riverside County Medical Association Executive Director Dolores Green said: “It is troubling that we still have public officials who are dismissing the severity of this pandemic, and downplaying the effectiveness of vaccines against serious disease.”
It’s unclear whether Bianco intends to defy the state order requiring jail employees to get vaccinated or regularly tested for the virus. Sheriff’s officials did not respond to a question about whether unvaccinated jail employees will undergo twice-weekly COVID-19 testing as required by the public health order.
In a news release issued Monday afternoon, Sept. 13, the sheriff accused The Press-Enterprise of “using cherry picked statements from supposed health experts in an attempt to paint me and the Sheriff’s Department in a negative light. This is nothing but sensationalism trying to gain readership and further divide us as Americans.”
“There is absolutely nothing in my podcast that was incorrect or irresponsible,” he said. “It is factual and common sense based … the information I have about Covid and the vaccines is easily found and available for anyone wanting to find it.”