Riverside County Sheriff Doubles Down Against Vaccine Mandates

Riverside County Sheriff Doubles Down Against Vaccine Mandates RIVERSIDE COUNTY, CA — Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco reiterated Monday that he will not mandate COVID-19 vaccination for his department’s sworn officers, staff, or future new hires, despite a state order.

Monday’s statement came in response to a same-day article in The Press-Enterprise about Bianco’s position on COVID-19 vaccination.

The reporter “cherry-picked statements from supposed health care experts” in an attempt to “paint me and the Sheriff’s Department in a negative light,” the sheriff said.

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Richard Carpiano, a public health expert and professor of public policy at UC Riverside, told PE reporter Jeff Horseman that it “would be an understatement” to call the sheriff’s rhetoric “irresponsible and a dereliction of duty.”

In July, the state issued a public health order requiring people working in state and local correctional facilities and detention centers to get vaccinated or submit to twice weekly COVID-19 testing. The sheriff had until Aug. 23 to comply.

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Bianco’s statement Monday follows a 13:05-minute “RSO Roundup” video segment released Sept. 9 in which the sheriff told viewers he will not enforce vaccinations in his department. (Watch below.)

“I’m not anti-vax. I am anti-vax for Chad,” Bianco said in the podcast. “I believe it’s a personal choice.”

He told podcast viewers his position was “not political,” although his video segment came on the same day that President Joe Biden announced executive orders mandating vaccines for federal workers and contractors, as well as new requirements for large employers and health care providers.

In the podcast, Bianco criticized data put forth by health care officials; he questioned whether the pandemic was really a crisis; said “half of doctors say something different”; and claimed that natural immunity from past coronavirus infection lasts longer than the protection offered by the currently available vaccines. He did not provide any data to back up his assertions.

“There is absolutely nothing in my podcast that was incorrect or irresponsible,” Bianco said in Monday’s statement.

The sheriff, who is an elected official, contracted the virus last year and recovered.

“The government has no ability to mandate your health choices,” the Monday statement continued. “As your Sheriff I have an obligation to guard your liberty and freedom. It is time our government and our politicians come to the realization that the only reason they exist is because ‘we the people’ formed our government to secure the blessings of individual liberty and freedom.”

Bianco has been highly critical of health mandates. Last year, he was in the national spotlight after speaking against pandemic-related restrictions implemented by the state.

At least two Riverside County deputies have died from COVID-19. In total, about 1,500 sheriff’s department employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic’s start, Bianco said in his podcast.

The sheriff told podcast viewers he did not know how many department employees and sworn officers are currently vaccinated.

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