Snohomish County officials expecting vaccine mandate for local government workers

Vaccine mandates could be coming down the pipeline to local governments.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers said during the health briefing on Tuesday, "Very soon we will be under a vaccination mandate for our organization."

Somers believes the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) will adopt the federal vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees and expand that to include all organizations with more than 100 workers.

That applies to local governments such as Snohomish County, which Somers said more than 70 percent of the staff is vaccinated. 

The executive does not believe L&I will allow a testing option. 

"There’s a significant number of people who are saying they will not get vaccinated and would rather lose their jobs. So we are expecting to see some of that resistance," said Executive Somers.

The latest data shows COVID cases have declined in Snohomish County, but the rate of transmission is as high as ever.

More than 2-thousand students in Kindergarten to 12th grade were quarantined the first two weeks of September, according to the Health Officer.

"We still had 1,700 residents test positive last week. For every confirmed case, there’s an additional number of people identified as close contacts, who then have to quarantine. That included one thousand K-through-12 students who were quarantined last week," said Dr. Chris Spitters, Snohomish Health District.

There’s an uptick in the number of deaths due to COVID-19, and more than 100 people with Covid are in the hospital.

Dr. Spitters said workplaces don’t need to require a negative test for an employee to go back to work, and called it a waste of scarce resources.

"We encourage all exposed people and people with symptoms to seek testing promptly, but retesting a previously diagnosed case for the purposes of return to work is not helpful and it’s not necessary," said Dr. Spitters.

Instead, workers who test positive can return to work after staying out of the action and isolating for ten days. People who are immunocompromised or have severe disease are asked to stay out of work and isolate for 21 days.

RELATED: Redmond firefighters battle for vaccine exemption

RELATED: Gov. Inslee requests federal assistance for Washington hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients

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