Six Oregonians filed a lawsuit Thursday against Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s vaccination mandate, arguing that they have natural immunity after contracting the novel coronavirus and calling the governor’s orders unscientific.
The six plaintiffs all face being fired if they defy Ms. Brown’s orders issued last month requiring state executive-branch employees, health care workers and K-12 teachers, staff and volunteers to be fully vaccinated, with no opt-out who submit to weekly testing.
The case was filed in U.S. District Court in Eugene by the Freedom Foundation, which named Ms. Brown and Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen as defendants.
“The governor’s orders fail to take into account natural immunity which current studies show to be just as — if not more — effective than any vaccine,” said Jason Dudash, the foundation’s Oregon director, in a Friday statement. “These mandates are about control and not based in any science, which is consistent with what we’ve seen come out of the governor’s mansion this past year, as well as the White House.”
Oregon has some of the toughest COVID-19 mandates in the nation, including both indoor and outdoor masking requirements, aimed at countering the recent uptick in cases from the fast-moving delta variant.
The deadline for workers covered by the mandates is Oct. 18 or six weeks after the vaccine receives full FDA approval, whichever is later. The Pfizer vaccination received full approval on Aug. 23.
The six Oregon residents filing the lawsuit include Joshua Williams, Aurora Fire and Rescue chief, who contracted the virus in January; three state workers; a school bus driver; and an office manager for an orthodontics practice.
At least four have tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, but under the mandates they face fines of $500 per day until they are terminated or vaccinated, said the foundation.
“The state compelling private individuals to submit to any medical procedure against their will is outrageous enough,” said foundation litigation counsel Rebekah Millard. “Imposing a one-size-fits-all mandate on people who not only don’t need the vaccine but would have an elevated chance of experiencing serious side effects if they take it shows conclusively the state’s actions are steeped in partisan politics rather than hard science.”
Ms. Brown announced Aug. 19 the updated vaccination requirements for health care and school workers, saying that hospital ICU beds were 93% full and the overwhelming number of those being hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
“There are those who will disagree with the actions I am taking today,” she said at a press conference. “But school is starting across the state. COVID-19 poses a threat to our kids, and our kids need to be protected. And I’m willing to take the heat for it.”
Mr. Dudash said that the “governor should have a vested interest in keeping as many people on the payroll as possible.”
“Instead, she is advocating for an overarching policy that will fire tens of thousands of employees who last month she heralded as heroes, for a reason that can only be interpreted as punitive and vindictive,” he said.
The state health authority reported Thursday a slight dip in weekly case numbers, which were down 3% from last week after rising for eight straight weeks. Coronavirus hospitalizations rose from 1,000 to 1,036, according to KTVZ-TV.
Nearly 81% of the new cases from Aug. 29-Sept. 4 were reported in unvaccinated patients, while 19% were breakthrough cases affecting those inoculated against COVID-19.