ALFRED — York County Commissioners, who in January had voted 3-2 in favor of implementing a policy mandating COVID-19 vaccines for county employees, recently reversed that decision.

At an early February meeting, Commissioners Richard Clark and Richard Dutremble voted in favor of continuing to pursue the vaccine mandate. Commissioners Donna Ring and Robert Andrews, and Chair Allen Sicard voted against the measure.

Within days of the county commission agreeing to pursue a vaccine mandate policy in January, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which had earlier announced a vaccine or testing mandate, had overstepped its authority.

In Maine and several other states, an OSHA rule requiring all businesses with 100 or more employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing would have applied to public employees as well.

Commissioners had voted to pursue a vaccine-only mandate, because it does not have the capacity to conduct weekly testing and related tasks. At that time, Commissioners Ring and Andrews were in opposition, with Sicard, Clark and Dutremble in favor.

“I was in support of moving forward, but since then the Supreme Court changed things,” said Sicard, in part on Feb. 2. He said it appeared the pandemic was moving into an endemic, and said he was not in favor of mandates, unless things change.

“We’re still in a pandemic and thousands of Americans die every day,'” said Clark. “We owe it to our employees to protect them, even if we protect them from other employees.”

Andrews and Ring both said they would not mandate a vaccine.

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