The vaccine mandate is illogical and illegal

This is an open letter for Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss and Evanston DHHS Director Ike C. Ogbo.

Dear Mayor Biss and Director Ogbo,

I am writing to you today to ask that you recall today’s Vaccination Mandate Public Health Order.

Today’s Evanston DHHS Vaccination Mandate public health order is illegal. It is also incoherent with published health facts.

Before we consult our U.S. Constitution, let’s consider the health data.

Relevant COVID-19 Data Points

  1. As of the 27th of December, 84% of Evanston residents are fully vaccinated; 100% of those over 65 years old. Notice on the graph below that this has been true for over 75% of the population since June 2021 (the spike in November is correlated with booster recommendations) (Evanston Data).
  1. Hospitalizations are rising in Illinois, but Illinois data shows that 60% (35/59) of yesterday’s (12/29/2021) new admissions are from the 60+ year old population (NY Times). This ratio closely matches the 66% (40/60) from the same date last year. While this data is more expansive than Evanston, it demonstrates that the un/under-vaccinated sub-population of Evanston affected by this mandate are not among the hospitalized.
  1. Fully vaccinated individuals does not meaningfully reduce the transmission rate, only reducing the rate of hospitalization and death among the vaccinated.

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CDC expects that anyone with Omicron infection can spread the virus to others, even if they are vaccinated or don’t have symptoms.

CDC - Omicron Variant Spread

Conclusion From Health Data

If we accept that 1) 84% of Evanston residents are merely inconvenienced by this order, 2) those for whom infection leads to hospitalization are already fully vaccinated, and 3) the unvaccinated 16% can still contract COVID-19 from fully vaccinated individuals, this order will achieve NOTHING.

The following U.S. Constitutional amendments are obviously applied.

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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

First Amendment

The writers of the vaccine mandate are conscious that they do not have the authorization to “limit the free exercise of religion,” since they include “Houses of worship” in their excluded businesses and indoor venues. Likewise, the individual exemption for “the purposes of voting” nods in this amendment’s direction. However, they are denying unvaccinated citizens access to a host of indoor spaces. Does DHHS, or even the Federal government, have this right?

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The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fourth Amendment

Given the health facts previously mentioned, on what grounds is there an argument that the presentation of an individual’s vaccination card and proof of id is a reasonable search? That is, the presentation of this information does not protect the business' employees or patrons nor protect the vulnerable. And finally and extended quote from the city’s municipal code.

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(C) Diseases: Epidemics and Pandemics. In the case of any disease outbreak inclusive of any epidemic disease or any disease event categorized as a pandemic disease or of danger from an anticipated or impending epidemic or pandemic disease, or in case the sanitary conditions of the City should be of such character as to warrant, it shall be the duty of the Public Health Director or the City Manager or his/her designee to take such measures and to do, order and cause to be done such acts for the preservation of the public health as he/she may in good faith declare the public safety and health demands, except as may be herein, elsewhere or otherwise specially authorized.

(D) Power to Disinfect Premises. The Public Health Director or the City Manager or his/her designee shall have the power to cause any house or any premises to be cleaned, disinfected or closed to visitors while any person therein is suffering from any contagious or infectious disease. He/she may, by an order in writing, direct any nuisance affecting the sanitary condition of the City or the public health to be abated, or unwholesome matter or substances, dirt or filth to be removed from any house or premises, and may prescribe the time and mode of so doing, and take any other reasonable measures he/she may deem necessary and proper to prevent the spread of any contagious, infectious or epidemic disease.

(E) Contracts. All contracts entered into by the Public Health Director and all bonds shall be made in the name of the City.

(F) Penalty.

1. Any person who violates the provisions of this Chapter, or any regulations promulgated hereunder, or any orders authorized under this Chapter or under applicable law shall be subject to fines of not less than one hundred dollars ($100.00) and up to two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) per offense, and each day this Code is violated shall constitute a separate offense.

2. In addition to any other remedies permitted under this Chapter, the Corporation Counsel may file a complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County to enjoin any person from violating the provisions of this Chapter, or any regulations promulgated hereunder or any department orders provided for under this Chapter.

Evanston Municipal Code §8-1-3-1

The segment of the Evanston Municipal Code that grants the DHHS Director the power to establish this mandate is shimmed into language respecting the sanitary conditions of buildings. It is a considerable stretch to expand their powers to particular citizens.

Do you notice in the code what the closest corollary to humans are? The demand that businesses prevent unvaccinated patrons from staying in their facility over ten minutes is parallel to “any nuisance affecting the sanitary condition of the City” or worse “unwholesome matter or substances, dirt or filth” (§8-1-3-1(D)). Wow.

If we accept that 1) the first amendment protects citizens for more than voting and religious freedom, 2) there is insufficient evidence that mandatory proof of vaccination is a reasonable search as stated in the fourth amendment, and 3) the Evanston Municipal Code offers power to the DHHS director to enforce sanitary building conditions but, if enforced on unvaccinated citizens, would place DHHS in the ludicrous position of comparing citizens to “nuisances” and “filth”, then this order is ILLEGAL.

Final Conclusion

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The intent of this Order is to promote vaccinations for community members in order to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the threat of the Delta variants, Omicron and other variants, and to protect all members of the Evanston community. Violations of this Order shall be subject to the fines, penalties, and provisions set forth under the Evanston Municipal Code §8-1-3-1(F) and all applicable penalties provided for in law.

DHHS Vaccination Mandate

The stated purpose of the vaccination mandate is unsupportable by data and unenforceable by law. It is a blatant failure to listen to the community members who choose not to be vaccinated (and will not be swayed by your order) and an ill-advised escalation of pressure on U.S. citizens. It simultaneously erodes public trust while serving no public good. It crushes the struggling businesses in our city and shames us before the state of Illinois and before the United States.

The pressure to follow suit with your contemporaries must be enormous, and the ongoing pandemic with the chronic fear and distrust it’s fostered only increases the pressure. With over a year’s worth of data and the U.S. Constitution, I pray you can see that this course of action is neither good nor right. We all make mistakes; do correct this one.

Your Obedient Servant,

A. Bilson


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