JACKSON, Mich. — The Jackson County Commission will not mandate COVID-19 vaccinations, masks or passports for county employees and further will not direct money or resources towards enforcing any COVID mandates.
The commissioners voted 7-2 in favor of the resolution. Commissioners Darius Williams and Daniel Mahoney were the two who were opposed.
The resolution states Jackson County does not dismiss the seriousness of COVID-19 but does not support mandatory vaccinations, wearing of masks, testing, contact tracing, use of vaccine passports, or “differing treatment of unvaccinated individuals in schools, businesses and public places.”
“The resolution is for people that want to get vaccinated and to continue to wear masks they should do so,” Commissioner Corey Kennedy said.
“But, not to condemn their neighbors and that we all live together and move forward. It’s been a long 20 months since this health crisis began,” he said. “I think everybody has different outlooks on it and no one should be chastised for what personal medical decision they make.”
At the Tuesday night meeting, dozens of people commented on the COVID resolution proposed by Commissioner Tony Bair. Most were in support of the resolution.
Kennedy said he went into the meeting thinking the vote was going to be close. He believes the community coming out changed the minds of some commissioners.
“I think all the community input really, frankly pressed some other Republicans that have their doubts. But, that’s not the only reason,” he said. “The original document was re-documented. It took other commissioners' concerns as well as the county’s attorney’s concerns into account. So, I think that also helped sway some people. A lot of language pulled out, quite frankly, stuff that the county was not authorized to do and could have opened us up to civil litigation.”
Language removed from the original resolution include replacing the word “ban” with “oppose” mandatory vaccinations and not saying “restore constitutional freedoms to Jackson County.”
A paragraph from the original resolution stating:
“WHEREAS, younger members of our County are not at significant risk from the Covid-19 virus. Mandated measures of masking children as young as 2 years of age, coerced testing of teen athletes, and quarantining students—with negligible illness surfacing, have negatively affected socio-emotional development and education, and deprived children of positive activities and once-in-a-lifetime events. The risk of anxiety, depression and death from suicide has increased and is a greater risk to our youth than Covid-19—a mental health crisis which MUST be weighed. Area hospitals are not filled with youth with Covid-19, but rather with youth on suicide watch.”
was changed to:
“WHEREAS, these orders also disrupted meaningful student education and socio-emotional development causing increased mental health issues and a possible increase in suicide rates of the youth of Jackson County.”
Another part of the original resolution stated:
“WHEREAS, we now have safe and effective therapeutics proven to save lives, our hospitals are well equipped and not overwhelmed.”
Was changed to:
“WHEREAS, differing opinions on prevention and treatment to be conducted in response to COVID-19 should be robustly debated, but that ultimately it is a citizen’s God-given right to choose for themselves what is in their, and their children’s best interests.”
Leoni Township resident Russ Jennings supports the resolution.
“I’m really pleased that the resolution passed. I’m really pleased that it passed seven to two. It sends a good message. I’m encouraged that Jackson County has a County Commission that is fighting for freedom. It’s rare to see in today’s government,” Jennings said.
In the resolutionthey call on President Joe Biden, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the state health department and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration to end all orders and restrictions related to COVID-19.
“We’re not going to go around arresting people that don’t wear masks or aren’t vaccinated,” Kennedy said, adding that, “A lot of it is preemptive. Instead of just saying…we’re going to take a stand that says, we’re not going to enforce unconstitutionality."
The county said they will continue to provide COVID-19 vaccines and testing “for those who desire them”
“The public should take away that we stand with them and that we stand with their rights to choose what they want to put in their bodies and the medical decisions they want to do for themselves and their families,” Kennedy said.
The resolution will go into effect immediately.
Next, a copy of the resolution will be sent to Whitmer, state Sen. Mike Shirkey and state Rep. Julie Alexander, among others.
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