Sheriff Chad Bianco issued a new statement regarding requirements for COVID-19 vaccinations or regular testing of employees assigned to county jails.
Original Report 09/13/21:
Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco says he won't take a coronavirus vaccine, and he won't force anyone else to either.
In a new podcast, Bianco said he will not require his deputies to get shots, adding that it's not his job to keep people healthy.
"I certainly don't feel that it's my role as sheriff or that I even have the ability to force you to get the vaccine just if you want a job," he said.
Bianco went on to cast doubt on the effectiveness of vaccines and said it's a personal and individual choice.
"Part of government is not keeping you healthy. That's not the role of government, I believe," Bianco said. "It's not my role."
Palm Springs Mayor Christy Holstege said she is "fed up" with the misinformation she said Bianco has repeatedly been spreading through the pandemic.
"His behavior is directly putting our residents at risk," Holstege said. "It's our fundamental duty as elected officials to keep our community safe."
Bianco oversees more than 3,600 employees. He said more than 40 percent have tested positive.
"We've had probably about 1,500 of our employees test positive and have gotten over it," he said. "I don't know the number of people that are vaccinated. Quite frankly, I don't care."
At least two of those employees did not recover. In April 2020, long-time RSO veterans Deputy Terrell Young and Deputy David Werksman lost their battles with coronavirus.
The CDC says unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from Covid 19.
Still, Sheriff Bianco said natural immunity is more protective than vaccines that have been proven to prevent severe illness.
"If you've already had Covid, which I did, I got over it," he said. "99.875% of the people get over it, and everything is fine."
Richard Carpiano is a public health scientist and professor of policy at University of California, Riverside. He said Bianco's comments prove that he denies the science on Covid vaccines.
"What he's doing is risking the health of his deputies, his staff, their families and the people in the communities that they all interact with," Carpiano said. "To be talking in these kinds of ways that sow doubt, that sow distrust about public health, as someone who is not even an expert on the topic, is just entirely irresponsible."
This comes after last week, President Biden announced that employers with more than 100 workers would be required to get everyone vaccinated or get tested each week.
News Channel 3 asked the Sheriff's Dept. if those who are not vaccinated are being tested weekly, but has not received a response.