The Odessa City Council passed a resolution saying that the city would not enforce any COVID-19 mask or vaccine mandates imposed nationally or by the state, becoming the first city in Texas to pass such a resolution.
Brought forward by Council Member Christopher Hanie, the resolution states that residents of Odessa were “subjected to injustices in the form of overreaching government imposed mandates during the pandemic.”
“[M]andates, such as masking mandates, violate the free conduct a citizen should expect to enjoy. Compulsory vaccination mandates, imposed by government or business, violate a citizen’s right to control over their own body,” the resolution continued.
Hanie spoke before the vote on Tuesday and reminded the council about the drastic effects COVID-19 had on Odessa during the pandemic.
“Take a look at what was going on before all of this. The last time they shut it all down. I want you to remember that oil dropped to zero because of people not being able to get to work, people not being able to do stuff. We don’t want this again. We make our living here on the oil field,” Hanie said, according to the Texas Scorecard.
Six of the council members voted in favor of passing the resolution, arguing that residents should not be subject to mandates that “violate their right to freedom and liberty.” One council member abstained from voting.
The resolution states that the City of Odessa would not enforce any mandate requiring a person to wear a face covering or get a vaccine. Additionally, mandates that affect a business’s operations or confine a person to their home will not be enforced, per the resolution.
City Manager John Beckmeyer applauded the resolution, saying that he was “so proud to be here with this council, with council members like councilman Hanie who had the guts to go out and put this resolution forward to say we’re not gonna do this again,” according to Your Basin.
Michelle Evans, political director of Texans for Vaccine Choice, also voiced support for the resolution. She said her organization was “deeply grateful for the grassroots efforts across the state to pass strong resolutions in defense of Texans’ medical liberty.”
“We applaud the Odessa City Council — as well as the Republican parties of Ellis, Williamson, and El Paso Counties — for recognizing the importance of informed consent and can’t wait to see other local governments and organizations follow suit. Hopefully, our elected officials in Austin are taking note — voters expect them to protect vaccine choice rights,” she stated, per the Texas Scorecard.
Despite the resolution’s passage, not everyone thinks COVID-19 mandates should be banned, with many claiming they could be beneficial.
Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, previously said that such mandates are necessary at times and that the government tries “to look at what the situation is and what would be the best way to save lives,” according to NBC 5 DFW.
Sen. Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin) also voiced a similar opinion on the subject.
“As a county judge during the pandemic, the mask mandate proved to be a really excellent tool for us to take a small collective action that was highly effective, extremely efficient, very fair, and minimally intrusive, that actually saved lives,” said Eckhardt, per Spectrum News 1.
“And the data is in inside the scientific and medical world that it had a hugely beneficial effect. So I think that contemplation of a ban on mask mandates is dangerous politics to the point of being deadly politics,” she said.