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Adams County adopts ordinance that makes compliance with federal vaccine mandates illegal

The local ordinance could put the county at risk of losing funding from Medicare and Medicaid programs.

ADAMS COUNTY, Idaho — Adams County Commissioners unanimously passed a local ordinance on Monday that makes following federal vaccine mandates illegal. This is the first county in Idaho to pass a mandate of this nature.

The ordinance is in response to President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate, which requires all federal contractors and employers with more than 100 employees to require vaccination against COVID-19 or weekly testing. That mandate was paused by a federal court over the weekend and is pending review of the mandate's possible statutory and constitutional issues.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a mandate last week that requires any healthcare facilities participating in Medicaid and Medicare programs to vaccinate all eligible staff by Jan. 4, 2022.

This mandate would apply to the Adams County Health Center, the county's largest employer.

During a county commissioner meeting in October, Chief Financial Officer Mary Ann Domeck said the health center could lose its Medicare and Medicaid status, which would mean the center could provide services, but would not be paid for them.

Ultimately, Domeck said this would cause the center to close, as 70% of the money brought into the center is provided by Medicare and Medicaid.

Despite the risk, Adams County Commissioners passed the vaccine ordinance.

"We're a tiny county, but a freedom-loving county," Adams County Prosecutor Christopher Boyd said. "For us, it's not about whether the vaccines are good or bad but whose decision is it; it's your decision."

During a previous meeting of the Adams County Commissioners, Boyd compared federal vaccine mandates to World War II and the kidnapping and imprisonment of millions of Jewish people, saying in part:

When they came for the Jews, the German people did not stand up. When they came for the Jews, they took their livelihoods first. They didn't just line them up and shoot them first, they took their livelihoods On November 8, 1938, the night of the broken glass, those people were rounded up, their businesses were destroyed, and they were thrown out of work. We can't allow this to happen.

Boyd said he sees no difference between what happened then and the federal vaccine mandates.

"There aren't that many [differences]. You have someone you disagree with, but you're gonna say, 'You know what? This person shouldn't be allowed to work. This person shouldn't be allowed to come in here to this business. This person shouldn't be allowed to do X, Y or Z," he explained. "We're in the beginning stages, but you're taking people who you disagree with politically and you're skewering them on their rights. That's fundamentally the problem."

Boyd said he is hopeful the county's ordinance will stand against a federal vaccine mandate.

"I'm willing to fight it and I'd rather fight it and lose than not fight it at all," he said. "And I sure hope we can fight it and win, which is quite likely."

The ordinance will go into effect 30 days from Monday and carries a misdemeanor charge, a possible punishment of $2,000 and a year of prison time.

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