Portland Dispatch 9.20.21

A thousand people descended on Oregon’s capitol to protest the governor’s mandate firing all health care and school workers and volunteers who aren’t vaccinated by October 18.

An estimated 1,000 people rallied at the Oregon Capitol Saturday to protest COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates.

Protesters identified themselves as health care workers, teachers, emergency services workers and state employees.

Gov. Kate Brown has ordered those groups to be vaccinated by Oct. 18.

Rally-goers lined both sides of Court Street in front of the Capitol building, and filled the first block of the mall during about two hours of speeches, then marched through downtown Salem during the peaceful event. Salem Police estimated the number of participants at about 1,000.

“Apparently I’m not essential anymore. On Oct. 18, Gov. Kate Brown’s going to take my job,” said Adam Cunningham, an instructor at the Oregon State Police Academy. “I’ll be terminated because I refuse to give her and the state information about my personally held religious beliefs and my medical history.”

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The governor announced the executive action on August 11, taking away the testing option for employees.  She also restored mask mandates inside and outdoors.  As an employer the governor can require state employees to take the injection, but I don’t know how she’s allowed to require it for hospital workers or (presumably covered by the mandate) private school teachers.

Kids are returning to school here soon and already have in parts of the state.  Outbreaks (two or more cases within a month) of the Delta variant in newly reopened schools in southern Oregon are being cited for the new rules and more to come.  This seems to follow a pattern nationwide as the pro-vax narrative turns to the eventual compulsory vaccination of children.  The governor would not rule out mandating them for schoolkids once they acquire FDA approval.

There are more children hospitalized with COVID-19 in Oregon than at any point in the pandemic. They’re also making up a larger proportion of the total cases, at 12.7%. And despite the availability of vaccines, more cases are spreading in 12- to17-year-olds than any other group of children.

Brown sidestepped giving a direct answer when asked if she might mandate vaccines for school children older than 12 once the COVID-19 vaccines receive full approval from the Food and Drug Administration. “All options remain on the table,” she said.

The focus on children seems to be a national trend for the vaccine push, and the governor’s actions are supported by Oregon’s teacher’s union.  Hospitals support mandatory vaccinations as well and are moving aggressively, but the nurse’s union is against it.  Meanwhile cases have peaked here, as they have everywhere else, and from a certain vantage the fervor over schools and potential outbreaks appears as if to keep the hysterical narrative going.

Sunday’s protest was organized by the Oregonians for Medical Freedom PAC organized by health care workers to oppose vaccine mandates, not by the local Proud Boy affiliates (as virtually all non-antifa demonstrations of the last few years).  As a result the rally didn’t draw the usual anarchist counter-protest and in their absence the mood on the ground, according to a friend, was “electric” among a crowd of “non-fringe, ordinary” people, making the patriots’ last effort look like “child’s play”.

 The rightwing patriot groups have been intrepid but inept (and isolated) in their efforts and don’t appear to have the human capital to move beyond their street-level actions.  If there’s more to the movement that announced itself yesterday, the progressive uniparty running our Democratic super-majority state may have real problems, finally. 

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