Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate led to the departure of one State Patrol trooper from the Port Angeles detachment and 44 Clallam Bay Corrections Center employees by the Monday deadline, state officials said Wednesday.
All 44 Clallam Bay Corrections Center (CBCC) employees were terminated by the facility due to the mandate, according to the state Office of Financial Management (OFM). It was not released how many were correctional officers.
“Clallam Bay’s staffing challenges have been an ongoing part of the COVID-19 outbreak that the facility is working through,” CBCC spokesperson Rachel Ericson said Wednesday in an email.
“The facility is not expecting any disruptions based on the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.”
The male state trooper who left had 10 to 15 years experience and worked out of a detachment on U.S. Highway 101 east of Port Angeles that covers Clallam and Jefferson counties, State Patrol spokesperson Gill Vanderkooy said Wednesday.
The trooper had refused to get immunized and left the agency, Vanderkooy said.
The Clallam Bay prison has seen a dramatic increase in staff inoculations over the past two weeks, a period needed for the vaccine to take effect.
As of Oct. 2, 56.74 percent of the CBCC staff were not vaccinated, 41 percent were fully vaccinated and 2.3 percent were partially vaccinated, according to DOC data.
In a report released Tuesday by OFM, 93 percent of the CBCC staff of 337 employees were vaccinated.
Thirty-nine employees requested religious exemptions, of which 31 were approved as of Tuesday.
Two were denied, five were closed or withdrawn, and one was pending.
Seven workers requested medical exemptions, of which three were approved, two were closed or withdrawn and two are pending.
At Forks-area Olympic Corrections Center (OCC) in Jefferson County, 92.6 percent of a staff of 121 employees were vaccinated as of Tuesday.
Sixteen employees requested religious exemptions, of which three were approved, 11 were closed or withdrawn, one was pending, and one was denied.
Thirteen OCC employees requested medical exemptions, of which eight were closed or withdrawn and five were approved.
Vanderkooy said troopers had no choice but to get vaccinated or lose their jobs.
They were not eligible for accommodations under medical or religious exemptions.
Workers in other jobs such as health care can be accommodated by adhering to stricter safety protocols than those that apply to vaccinated individuals, such as regular, mandatory COVID-19 tests and stronger masking requirements.
The State Patrol personnel were not eligible for non-field duty, Vanderkooy said.
“The governor said there’s nothing we can put them in, nothing like light duty to accommodate [them],” Vanderkooy said.
OFM reported 1,877 Washington state workers separated from state employment due to the state’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
The vast majority of separations were initiated by the agencies they worked for.
There were 1,696 employer-initiated separations, 112 resignations and 79 retirements due to the mandate.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski contributed to this report.