Urban-rural divide heating up as state vaccine work mandates begin to hit close to home

by WorldTribune Staff, October 6, 2021

The impact of cosmopolitan elitist-decreed coronavirus vaccine mandates on small towns threatens to exacerbate the already simmering urban-rural divide in the United States.

‘ “Let them eat cake” is official government health policy in the Beaver State.’ / Video Image

In no field is this more pronounced than emergency services/health care. Will it lead to a climb down on enforcement of harsh jab edicts in the face of reality by cocooned urbanites or a further drive by rural inhabitants to separate themselves from their big cities?

A move by residents of several rural Oregon counties to break free from the clutches of political control wielded by Portland progressives and Salem statists by seceding from the state and creating a “Greater Idaho” has picked up momentum over the past year as the cultural gap dividing urbanized leftists and establishment adherents from the rest of the nation only widens under an imposed Biden administration.

Now, these same communities are facing a coming crisis as autocratic Democrat Gov. Kate Brown’s Oct. 18 deadline for compliance with her mandate that all state health workers be fully vaccinated approaches.

“Rural counties that fear first responders will quit in bulk ahead of a mid-October vaccine mandate need to come up with their own solutions instead of relying on the state, according to state officials,” is how The Oregon Capital Chronicle began an Oct. 5 article.

The big city has laid down its will, and the little people beyond its grid are being told to shift for themselves in applying it:

The state Office of Emergency Management maintains that cities and counties are responsible under law to provide emergency services for their citizens, and the state should only step in when local governments are overwhelmed. Spokeswoman Chris Crabb wrote in an email that the office will evaluate requests for help from local governments, but they should try first to solve their own problems.

“We expect divisions of local government to maintain their statutory responsibilities, initiate continuity of operations plans that address staffing shortfalls and the prioritization of critical services, and leverage resources available through mutual aid and the private sector before elevating requests for assistance to the state,” Crabb wrote.

“Let them eat cake” is official government health policy in the Beaver State.

Oh, but it’s not that easy, Kate Antoinette:

Several rural counties have already declared emergencies based on their conclusion that firefighters, paramedics, teachers and health care workers will resign by Oct. 18 instead of getting vaccinated for COVID-19. In central Oregon, Jefferson County emergency manager David Pond, a sergeant with the sheriff’s office, estimates only 50% of the county employees subject to vaccination requirements have received vaccines. That number may tick up slightly before Oct. 18, but he said he still expects close to half of the county’s first responders will choose to be fired or resign rather than comply with vaccine mandates.

“On our best day, with nobody on vacation, nobody sick and a full staff, we’re still a really busy office,” he said. “If we had to work in a 50% capacity, people are going to wait a long time for their services, and some of those services may be critically important to you as someone calling 911.”

The big city decrees vaccine mandates for all state health workers. Rural workers, who aren’t poisoned by the leftist establishment propaganda, quit rather than get the jab. A pending disaster looms.

Does the state think logically and pull back its horns? Or double down on the tyranny with no regard for real-world consequences?

Since manufacturing crisis is what our ruling elites live for, that part of the question answers itself.

But at ground level, things won’t be so simple. Might this spark an eventual pull-back from the harsh mandates in practice, even as the government blowhards closer to the coast still demand full compliance with their edicts?

Another state dealing with these same dynamics suggests it may.

“Colorado officials may weaken coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers,” reads the headline on an Oct. 5 article at The Colorado Sun. The will to enforce power is frustratingly being forced to face the calamitous results of its ruthlessness. And mull retreat:

Colorado health officials have proposed weakening the state’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers, meaning some employees at hospitals and nursing homes might be able to remain on the job while unvaccinated even if they don’t have a valid exemption.

A key reason for the reconsideration, according to The Sun: the pending possible loss of scores of rural health workers who will not get the vaccine. It should be emphasized that the proposed changes are not that bold: 90% compliance for all staffers instead of 100%. But the fearsome “vaccinated or else” machine is leaking oil, and that makes this a noteworthy development.

Cathy Harshbarger, CEO of Melissa Memorial Hospital in Holyoke, population under 2,500, explained one small health care facility’s conundrum:

When she looked at her vaccination numbers after the Board of Health passed the mandate, she found that nearly half the hospital’s workforce of a little over 100 people was unvaccinated. If they didn’t get the shot or a valid exemption, they would be walking out the door and the hospital would have had difficulty maintaining all but the most critical services….

She said the mandate brought upheaval to the community. Workers started meeting to discuss their options. Harshbarger consulted a lawyer. Community leaders called on her to fight back against the mandate, while others insisted the hospital comply.

“It’s almost like it’s so intense in people’s fibers in how they feel about this that it’s catapulted into a whole different thing,” she said.

Eventually, Harshbarger said she settled on an approach: She would tell staff that it was their decision [to leave or stay], and their decision would be respected, no matter what.

Conciliatory instead of harsh. Not much when one is losing their job. But did it hint that greater cracks in the tyranny colossus were about to appear?

On Thursday, she said, the hospital planned a going away party for the three workers it believed then would be leaving over the mandate. [Close to 20 other workers filed for religious or medical exemptions.]

“They’re leaving because they had a choice they made,” she said early last week. “And we’re going to honor that choice and honor the work they did here.”

And on Friday, she said, the hospital would begin to heal.

But that was before the proposed rule changes came down. She’s not sure what happens to the unvaccinated workers now.

“I asked them to give me some time to work with legal and see if they can stay,” she wrote in an email.

It’s just one small example, and it remains to be seen where it leads, but the Colorado saga proves that staunch refusal in significant numbers can open a door for success at the local level over tyranny inflicted from on-high and far away. Will a softer approach eventually be taken in rural Oregon as well, or will the small-town residents there become even more emboldened to secede from Kate Brown’s Salem dictatorship?


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