Collier County resolution bans future mask, vaccine mandates

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

Collier County passed a new resolution banning both vaccine and mask mandates in the event of a future pandemic. The resolution’s supporters say it is meant to protect individual liberties, while critics worry it could create a future health crisis.

The resolution passed 4-1, with only a single county commissioner voting against it. Collier County has been a battleground in the fight against COVID-related mandates for some time.

“This is an unacceptable conflict with mandating anything, and in violation of our rights to not be harmed, injured or deprived of life without due process of law,” said Scott Kiley of Marco Island, a member of the self-proclaimed “COVID Tyranny Task Force.”

The group claims to fight for health freedoms.

“For the first time in history, we improperly and unlawfully quarantined the healthy, including children—this cost lives,” Kiley claimed. “It prolonged the pandemic. It crushed the economy. It served no purpose; it caused irreparable social and developmental harm to children. And we must never allow this to happen again.”

On Tuesday, despite information from health agencies that contradicted his claims, Kiley got his wish. Collier County commissioners passed a “Health Freedom Bill of Rights” banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates, vaccine passports and quarantines.

Opponents argue new state laws already protect against mask mandates and vaccine requirements.

“As an American, you have the right to your opinion, but you do not have the right to dictate public health,” said Jane Schlehtweg, chairwoman of the Collier County Democratic Executive Committee.

“We believe it will not be effective in rebuilding the trust some community members have lost in public health efforts, and we cannot support it,” said April Donahue, executive director o the Collier County Medical Society.

Commissioner Chris Hall is behind the new ordinance. All other commissioners except Burt Saunders backed it.

“I don’t think there’s any way I can get to a point of supporting the resolution,” Saunders said. “You don’t need an ordinance of Collier County, adopting state law, to be able to educate people on what the state law says. And so, I don’t really know what this ordinance accomplishes.”

Saunders says he also had concerns with part of the resolution having to do with patient visitation rights in hospitals and managing the spread of infectious diseases. Even so, the resolution passed.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.