On Wednesday, protesters gathered at the Capitol decrying vaccine mandate efforts despite both Assemblyman Evan Low and Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks’ bills already failing to pass legislation. The organizers of the protest said they wanted to let lawmakers know that many people opposed the vaccination mandates.
The protesters carried signs and t-shirts saying “vaccines cause injury and death,” and “vaccination leads to modern-day segregation”.
“This is indisputable data. This isn’t about politics. It’s about saving lives. I welcome debate, but based on facts and science,” said Assemblyman Low, who attempted to push through legislation about vaccine requirements nearing the deadline last Tuesday.
Meanwhile, according to Low, he reached a deal with the California Labor Federation and the California Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, appearing to clear the way for the COVID-19 workplace proposal to be amended into a bill and put to a vote in the Legislature this week.
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The deal included a provision that businesses wanted in state law stating that employers can require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, something currently allowed under federal guidance with exemptions for religious or medical reasons.
Businesses hoped to eliminate any ambiguity about their right to mandate vaccines in order to shield them from potential lawsuits.
This follows another earlier attempt made by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, who retracted her proposal, saying it will have to be postponed to “craft the strongest legislation possible.”
Assemblywoman Wicks had previously mentioned that while there would be no more chance of passing the vaccination requirements bill this year, her office is currently contacting labor unions and other companies in hopes of finally passing the bill next year.
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Protesters at the Capitol said the rally was primarily for lawmakers to recognize that “many people opposed the passing of the law” in case they tried to bring them back later.
Low said that the size of the crowd can be deceiving when attempting to use it as a sign of general resistance among residents in the state. More than 80% of eligible Californians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which means the overwhelming majority of people in the state believe in vaccines. However, Low also said that he welcomed the decision of people to rally against his efforts.
According to the lawmakers behind the proposals, vaccination mandates would improve vaccination rates and help lessen the effects of variants spreading through California.
Even though COVID-19 cases have shown signs of slowing in many parts of the state, with decreasing rates in Southern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, but rural areas in Northern California and the Central Valley are struggling with much higher hospitalization rates, according to a Los Angeles Times data analysis.
Experts have also warned that the pandemic could still worsen if more people are not vaccinated, particularly with children and staff back in schools and upcoming holiday gatherings and travel.