MARTINSVILLE — In Morgan County, there is a push to prevent mask and vaccine requirements before they start.
WRTV spoke with Ben Merida, deputy clerk for the City of Martinsville, who explained why is against certain COVID-19 mandates.
Merida said he is not an elected official, but he shared his idea during a city council meeting Monday night.
"I requested the city council to pass an ordinance that would make it a non-vaccine, non-mask mandate ordinance," Merida said. "So basically, just prohibit mask or vaccine mandates within city limits."
Merida said his proposal received mixed reactions, but he believes it was the right thing to do.
"These mandates coming out, really all they are accomplishing are a lot of division," he said. "People are losing their jobs because they don't want to get the vaccine that they don't believe in. It should be the personal choice of that person. It should be an individual, not a mandate."
Katelyn Deckard supports Merida's proposal and worked in Bloomington before she left her job after management required employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
She explained she is currently breastfeeding her 9-month-old daughter and said her doctor advised her to not get the vaccine just yet because she is nursing. However, she said the vaccine mandate at work forced her to make a hard decision.
"I just don't think that we should be forced to get a vaccination if we don't believe it's right for us right now," Deckard, a mother of two, said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people who are pregnant or breastfeeding to get the COVID-19 vaccine because it says the benefits of receiving the vaccine "outweigh any known potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy."
"It put me in a really tough position," Deckard said. "I'm like, do I want to keep my job, or do I want to continue nursing my daughter, and so, I actually ended up leaving that job."
Merida said he hopes his idea gets the right push by the next council meeting, which is scheduled to take place on Sept. 27.
WRTV reached out to Martinsville mayor's office, and so far, there has only been one discussion and no formal action has taken place to ban masks or vaccine mandates.
"Honestly, I probably should have started it earlier and you see things kind of escalating very quickly right now," Merida said. "So, we just have to see how the process plays out. I'm just pleased they're considering it."
According to the Indiana Department of Health, about 47% of people 12 and older in Martinsville are fully vaccinated. Right now, Morgan County is at a "Level 2.5" advisory. The county's seven-day positivity rate is almost at 13%, which is higher than the state's overall rate.