'Incredibly disappointed' DC councilmember withdraws bill to reinstate city's vaccine mandate

"I truly believe that patrons will choose to spend their money in places they feel protected," said Councilmember Nadeau in regards to the vaccine mandate.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

On Thursday evening, Democrat DC Councilmember Brianne Nadeau announced that she has withdrawn her emergency measure to reinstate the city's vaccine mandate which was ended earlier this week by Mayor Muriel Bowser.

In a statement regarding the matter, Nadeau blasted Bowser for "blindsiding" the public with her decision to withdraw the mandate, which required businesses like gyms and restaurant to require proof of vaccination to enter.

Nadeau said she heard in the wake of the decision from parents, workers, residents, immunocompromised people, and others "who simply believe it is too soon to make this change."

"Unfortunately, although I do believe we might have garnered the support of a majority of the Council on this legislation, we did not have a path to the nine votes needed to pass an emergency measure," wrote Nadeau.

Washington, DC, has 13 members in its city council, with the emergency legislation vote requiring around 2/3 vote to pass.

"I want to thank all those who advocated in support of the emergency measure," she said.

She said that "too often" lately, the council has engaged in "political battles" with the mayor on issues she says are "common sense measures and good policy."

"All we are asking for is some transparency and dialogue during one of the most critical moments in the history of our city," said Nadeau.

Nadeau said she still believes reinstating the city's vaccine mandate is "the best way to protect public safety" and groups that are at high risk of severe complications from the virus.

She continued on to strongly urge businesses to keep the requirement in place. In the announcement that the vaccine mandates would be dropped on Feb. 15, it adds that businesses can choose to keep these requirements in place.

"I truly believe that patrons will choose to spend their money in places they feel protected," said Nadeau, who added that "if The Washington Post poll is any indication, then 74 percent of residents who support the requirement will have your back."

Nadeau said its "critical" that the mandate be reinstated because while new protections for children and immunocompromised people is "on the horizon" these are currently not here, noting that an antiviral treatment will be available to the population in a few months, and young children will also be able to get vaccinated.

"The Executive, however, has also withdrawn this protection at a time when seventy-four percent of Washingtonians want the requirement to remain in place—and when they have good reasons for doing so. Cases are stuck at their pre-Omicron peak, two out of the six metrics tracked by DC Health are worsening, and residents in their fifties are still dying.  The District’s State Epidemiologist opined just last week that the District was 'nowhere near' ready to reopen, and stated that restaurants and bars remain the main source of community spread," said Nadeau.

Despite these points, CDC data says the number of cases in DC over the last seven days is down 28 percent, and deaths are down 42 percent.

DC’s website displaying its "key metrics" reveals that its weekly case rate per 100,000 people is 149.7 as of Feb. 16, compared to last month, when it was 1,046.6 per 100,000 people. Daily case rates have dropped as well, from 149.5 per 100,000 last month, to 21.4 per 100,000 as of Feb. 16.

Nadeau said that people from every ward and all walks of life want the vaccine mandate reinstated. "I am disappointed, but I am not deterred.  I will continue to engage in the hard work of making the District safer, healthier, and fairer.  I want to thank the Councilmembers who stood with me, and with our most vulnerable neighbors," she said.

"I implore the Mayor to do the right thing. I implore her to stand up for workers, for young people, for sick people, and for all those whose voices have been drowned out in this conversation by those of lobbyists," she added. "I implore her to follow her constituents, to follow her conscience, and to follow the science."

In response to Bowser's Monday announcement, Nadeau said she was "flabbergasted and angry" at the action.


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