Some courts uphold mask and vaccine mandates

October 2 – It looks like we could have seen some setbacks yesterday in terms of the mask mandates in schools and vaccination requirements for employment.

A federal decision in the Montoursville School District in Williamsport, PA, came down Thursday that there was no problem with the mask mandates in K-12 schools. They’re perfectly legal. The judge found no problem with the Secretary of Health’s order and no problem with the superintendent and school board implementing that.

The commonwealth court lawsuit filed by Senator Jake Corman and Representative Jesse Topper is still pending and the Montoursville case may not affect that decision, but it could be persuasive.

Also yesterday, a decision came out of California that could have ramifications for the east coast on vaccination requirements.

A professor at George Mason University is saying he should not be mandated to get vaccinated for COVID because he has the antibodies. While that case is still pending, an identical federal lawsuit was filed in California by a professor and a judge ruled in favor of the university yesterday – even though the professor has the antibodies, the university can still mandate him to get vaccinated.

State Representative Paul Schemel, attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen discussed the mask and vaccine issue Friday morning on First News.

Schemel said, “Different state, different laws. We’re acting under the State Disease Prevention and Control Act. That’s what the secretary utilized. There is a challenge in court. It’s before the commonwealth court now so we’ll wait and see what decision they make. Of course that’s appealable to the state Supreme Court. In the meantime, the legislature has been very strong in its opposition to a statewide mask mandate. For multiple reasons. It’s not that the legislature doesn’t believe that masking may be appropriate in some districts in some times. It’s having a statewide standard. It’s the people in Chambersburg and Waynesboro have to wait until Allentown has zero cases before their children can take masks off. It also takes away the flexibility of districts to find alternate solutions. A mask is a one-size fits all, everyone has to wear it whether you’re infected or not and most children are not at any one point. But they all have to wear masks. But there are other tools in the toolbox through COVID money that we received from the federal government the state has an $87 million contract in place right now to offer free testing through schools. That actually is private and public schools. Of the over 3,000 schools that could take advantage of that, only 400 have in the state. Because who wants to get into testing when everyone has to wear a mask anyway? But these are tools that instead of doing a blanket mask mandate that all children have to wear a mask, even though almost none of them are infected, you could instead have testing modules that could be utilized different ways. You could also use money to improve ventilation systems or do other things. There’s a lot of flexibility that has been effectively taken away from districts because no, the solution is just masking everyone. Basically quarantining everyone behind a paper mask.”

In terms of the California case where the professor has the antibodies and shouldn’t be required to get the vaccine, Barkdoll said, “Now again, that decision is only controlling in that western circuit, but it does not bode well to the extent we know there are identical cases pending all over the US right now.”

Ryan said, “That’s a bunch of junk going on there. You get the disease. You got the antibodies.”

“We recognize it for other diseases,” Jansen pointed out.

Ryan continued, “Why all of a sudden, other than power and drunk with craze? You get it, you got the antibodies. That should do it here. That’s insanity.”

Jansen said, “Even if they say it’s comparable to flu and we don’t recognize permanent immunity if you get the flu. Yeah, that’s true, but they need to make new vaccines then for the variants of this. You don’t keep getting the same flu shot after you’ve had the flu in a season. It then varies to the next year. We know we do have protection. We know the studies are showing that there’s protection, at least in the short term like for the next two years, some of the studies are showing so it’s absurd to me that you don’t get recognition for it currently.”

Barkdoll added, “For all of our friends at WellSpan, even though this was a California case, I’m sure they’re watching this very closely, too, because we’re hearing from our healthcare workers the same argument. I might already have the antibodies. Don’t require me to get vaccinated.”

Ryan said, “You’re going to show all sorts of great people that were on the front line warriors and then you’re going to show them the door. See you later. Thanks. No jab, no job. Nice. Real classy. But then I think of you take a bunch of these folks and you start a business together and I’ve certainly had my challenges in careers here and when faced with adversity like what you’re being handed here, I can’t help but think that you band together a number of these folks that don’t want the jab and are walking, let’s start a small business. Let’s get a bunch of folks together and all of a sudden, you’re not being held hostage anymore because you didn’t take the jab.”

Barkdoll said, “That is the wild card in all of these discussions. If you had enough what I would call civil disobedience, whether it’s a hospital system or a prison system, wherever the setting is, could the employer be in this tenuous situation that they can’t really enforce the mandate? Because if enough people are just walking off or if they have to fire enough people, it could get to a critical juncture that the hospital or the prison or you name the business, they wouldn’t even be able to provide the necessary services. So all of these mandates, most places have set deadlines over the next two to three months and I think it’s a very tricky situation that we all need to keep an eye on.”