Enumclaw passes ‘vaccine inclusivity’ resolution, condemns vaccine verification mandate as discriminatory

The city also confirmed it will not be enforcing the mandate at the Enumclaw pool.

The Enumclaw City Council, in a unanimous vote, passed a resolution declaring the city to be an inclusive community in respect to vaccination status.

The votes were enthusiastically cast during the Oct. 25 meeting.

Council member Anthony Wright was the author of the resolution, and stated that he began drafting it about a month ago when multiple news agencies — including the Courier-Herald — reported the council was not following either the state of Washington or King County’s mask mandate.

“This mandate was announced on September 10, 2021 during peak case counts and hospitalizations due to the rapid surge of the COVID-19 Delta variant wave,” the resolution reads. However, “in the roughly six weeks that has passed between the announcement and the implementation of the vaccine verification the hospitalizations and case count within King County has dropped significantly.”

Additionally, the council “recognizes that private businesses have not been given training over vaccine verification, testing verification or de-escalation training for mandates in which they were not given a choice in implementing,” the resolution continues, and that the council “does not support government mandates or restrictions promoting COVID-19 classification, grouping, segregating, or discriminating in our community.”

Therefore, the council “views requiring testing documentation as a requirement for select business… as an act of discrimination that will disproportionately target lower income citizens, minority communities, citizens who adhere to religious beliefs, citizens with disabilities and citizens with a medical condition,” and the city “should not take part in or support a mandate designed to discriminative against its citizens.”

Council member Kael Johnson was the first to offer his opinion and support of the resolution.

“I think our council, from the very beginning of COVID-19, has stood with our businesses in our community, and allowed freedom of choice. We’ve been a pro-business council and administration from day one. I love our community, I love our businesses, I love our council and administration, and I think this reinstitutes our firm belief in free enterprise, free market, and aligns with sound moral and value judgements,” he said. “I think it’s great Enumclaw is standing up for its businesses and for their citizens. It’s great stuff.”

Council member Hoke Overland then offered his thoughts.

“I won’t put up with discrimination in any form. To me, the county’s edict that they put out with their vaccine verification order, it really reeks of religious discrimination, and it also reeks of medical disability discrimination,” he said, right before making a motion to adopt the resolution. “I totally support this.”

Council member Beau Chevasses quickly seconded the motion, though discussion continued with Council member Tom Sauvageau.

“It’s hard. There’s a lot of people that have good opinions and very strong opinions one way or the other, so I think it’s good to clarify at least why I would be in support of this,” he said. “This isn’t talking about vaccines being good or bad for you, and I still would encourage that — just on the record, vaccines are good for you. Go out and get vaccinated. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The idea of mandating those vaccines is what we’re up against here.”

However, Sauvageau also urged caution for local businesses, emphasizing that this is just the opinion of the council and city administration, and in no way overrules county or state mandates.

“I would worry that business owners would take this and use this as some sort of legal stance of not following the rules — if the Liquor [and Cannabis] Board would come in to their business and [the business] said, ‘Hey, the city of Enumclaw passed this resolution’ – don’t necessarily do that,” he continued. “These government agencies that are controlled by the state and the county will still have the ability to come in and fine and cause your business trouble. So, please, small business owners, listen to this, understand this is a resolution and an opinion of the council and not a law that we’re changing on the state or county level.”

Council member Chance La Fleur echoed Sauvageau’s thoughts, adding that, “It’s funny, after some recent news media, people assume that none of us are vaccinated, and I think the majority of the people in this room are vaccinated.

“There’s just so many people that are very aggravated about this vaccine mandate. It doesn’t make sense,” he continued. “You can go get a test and then still go to a restaurant and still get COVID. And if you’re vaccinated you can still contract COVID and pass COVID along to somebody else that you run into. So given the actual implementation of this is horribly flawed, in my opinion, I’ll be supporting this resolution tonight.”

Council member Corrie Koopman Frazier was the most succinct in her thoughts: “I agree with everything — Anthony, as always, is always so eloquent in explaining exactly the thoughts in my head that I could never say out loud.”

Chevassus was the last council member to give his opinion.

“I love on the second page where it emphasizes vaccine status, religious preference, disability, medical condition, or access to testing should be treated equally with kindness, compassion, and understanding. That’s beautiful,” he said. “It’s not an alt-left, it’s not an alt-right, it’s an alt-middle approach. Which is so funny, that that should offend some people. But it’s very reasonable, and I like the alt-middle approach. It’s not anti-science, it’s not anti-vaccine, the purpose is spelled out there beautifully. 100 percent support.”

Mayor Jan Molinaro then offered his support before calling for the vote.

“To reiterate and re-emphasize, this is not a statement about anti-vaccinations. Everyone has made that clear,” he said. “But what we are stating here is freedom of choice, and I think that’s been the crux, if I’m not misstating it. And if this passes I’ll be happy to sign this.”

The Courier-Herald contacted both Public Health — Seattle & King County and King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office about the resolution, and specifically about the allegations that the vaccine verification mandate is discriminatory.

Public Health did not respond by print deadline, but Constantine’s Interim Director of Communications Chase Gallagher said that “King County’s vaccine verification policy is supported by health care, business, community, arts and culture, and night life venue partners across the county. The Delta virus is much more contagious, airborne, and causes severe illness, contributing to COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations that remain elevated in King County. In addition, we are at risk for a winter surge in cases. An analysis by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) conducted for King County found that the vaccine verification policy at restaurants, bars, and gyms/fitness centers alone could have a significant positive impact in reducing infections, hospitalizations and deaths.”

As for whether the mandate was discriminatory: “I do not have a response because there is zero restriction on testing,” Gallagher said.


While this vaccine inclusivity resolution has no power to change the vaccine verification mandate or give any businesses legal cover, the city of Enumclaw has decided not to enforce the mandate at the Enumclaw pool.

“We are asking folks to show their cards as well as if they have a test. We are asking for both,” Mayor Molinaro said in an interview after the meeting. However, “We are not going to engage in a confrontation. We’re not expecting our staff members to — if someone refuses, and someone marches into the pool, we are not going to engage them because of the potential confrontation. We do not want to jeopardize our staff to be confronted in that negative fashion.”

The pool was a particular sticking point for a few council members, as it doesn’t appear that COVID-19 can spread through water that’s been treated with chemicals to make it safe for crowds to swim in.

“When I Google ‘COVID-19’ and ‘pool’ or ‘public pools’, it very clearly states on the CDC website that there is no studies or scientific data to suggest that COVID-19 is highly transmissible at public pools,” Wright said. “It cites that the water is chlorinated, it cites that it has a tendency to kill viruses in the water — the only thing that’s really a remote concern is that if you have a pool packed in the stands and that there is a lot of spectators, that there is the potentiality of a lack of adequate vaccination.”

From the CDC’s website: “CDC is not aware of any scientific reports of the virus that causes COVID-19 spreading to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, water playgrounds, or other treated aquatic venues.”

Wright also cited a June 18 King 5 news report about swimming being safe for kids.

“The great news is that chlorine actually inactivates COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 virus, so it will kill the virus, and it’s really, really highly unlikely that you’re going to get COVID-19 in the pool,” Dr. Ravina Kullar, an infectious disease speciality and epidemiologist, told the station.

So, Wright continued, why did county health officer Dr. Jeff Duchin add pools to the vaccine verification mandate, and why was it added mere days before the mandate went into effect?

The Courier-Herald has posed the same questions to Public Health— Seattle & King County, but did not receive an immediate by print deadline.

In a Nov. 2 email, however, Public Health said that pools were always a part of the verification mandate, but language specifying that pools were a part of the mandate was added Oct. 15.

“The vaccine verification order was always intended to apply to indoor entertainment and recreational spaces of any size due to high transmission risk that occurs when people gather in these spaces,” spokesperson Kate Cole said. “Many examples are listed in the orders – such as gyms, fitness facilities, performing arts centers, etc. so that people understand what types of spaces these includes.”

“COVID-19 is primarily an airborne virus,” Cole continued. “The concern about transmission in pools has to do with people gathering in an indoor space (as opposed to concern about the virus spreading through the water).”

She also confirmed that it will not be seeking to respond to Enumclaw’s lack of enforcement of the vaccine verification mandate at the pool.

“At this time, the county is planning to respond only to egregious acts of non-compliance,” Cole said, adding Enumclaw’s situation “wouldn’t be classified as egregious non-compliance.”