Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has tested positive for COVID-19, the Sheriff’s Information Bureau confirmed Tuesday evening, but did not provide further details.
Villanueva has repeatedly spoken against LA County’s coronavirus vaccine requirement for county employees, claiming the mandate would decimate the ranks of what he describes as an already depleted department, City News Service reported. Villanueva said deputies should have the option of taking regular COVID-19 tests rather than being forced to get vaccinated.
The sheriff has also been at odds with the LA County Board of Supervisors, which in March moved to take COVID-19 vaccine mandate enforcement responsibilities away from Villanueva, who repeatedly said he would not enforce the requirement and fire deputies who refuse vaccination.
“This is ill-advised, illogical and probably in the long run illegal,” Villanueva said when he phoned into a Board of Supervisors meeting in February. “And by the time we figure out the legality of it, we’re going to be past the pandemic, which will make the result irrelevant. I urge you to deescalate, dial back the rhetoric and find some common ground — testing or vaccination, and we’re doing that right now.”
A motion introduced by Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Sheila Kuehl countered that “approximately 74% of the more than 5,000 COVID-19-related workers’ compensation claims filed by county employees as of Jan. 29 … have been filed by employees in the sheriff’s department. This data illustrates vaccinations’ vital role in limiting the spread of COVID-19 and thus, the urgent need to increase vaccination rates across the entire county workforce.”
Villanueva is facing reelection in November in a tight race against former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna.