The winds may be blowing the opposite direction at the state-government level, but the Arlington County government is moving forward on an all-or-nothing fiat on employee COVID vaccinations.
Under a revised edict from County Manager Mark Schwartz, employees who are not vaccinated to the satisfaction of the county government by Feb. 1 will go on unpaid leave, and those still not meeting the requirements by the end of that month will be terminated.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the measure seems to have received no public pushback from Arlington County Board members. At the board’s Jan. 22 meeting, board member Christian Dorsey said that there will be “no negative . . . service impact” because relatively few county employees are at risk of being fired.
Schwartz’s latest directive supersedes one from last year, which required that employees either get jabs or undergo regular testing to prove they do not have the virus.
In both the old and new rules, only those with what the county government deems legitimate medical or religious reasons will be exempt from the policy.
Whether Arlington’s move will face brushback at the state level remains to be seen. One could envision an opening for new Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares, who has been moving aggressively to reverse the policies of his Democratic predecessor, to target Arlington and other jurisdictions he sees as exceeding their power under state law.
Politically, such a move might be a winner for both Miyares and new Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Attacking the leaders of Northern Virginia’s left-leaning localities generally plays well in Republican parts of the commonwealth that helped sweep the GOP into power last November.
The measure also might end up in court.