Richmond, VA — New reporting from The Washington Post today is highlighting Winsome Sears’ refusal to respond to basic questions about whether she has been vaccinated against COVID-19. When recently asked about her vaccination status by CNN, Sears declined to answer and said it’s a "slippery slope,” before delivering a Trumpian attack on the media on Twitter.
As Glenn Youngkin and his fellow Trump-supporting running mate continue to push anti-vaccine, anti-science rhetoric while seeking the highest offices in the Commonwealth, Terry McAuliffe and Delegate Hala Ayala have been on the campaign trail sharing their vaccination status, supporting vaccine requirements for health care workers and educators, and showing the necessary leadership to keep schools safely open, keep our economy strong, and put the pandemic behind us.
See below for key excerpts and read the full report here.
The Washington Post: Republican candidate’s vaccination status becomes a target in Virginia lieutenant governor’s race
By: Antonio Olivio
Virginia Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Hala S. Ayala attacked her Republican opponent Winsome E. Sears Thursday over Sears’s refusal to say whether she’s received a coronavirus vaccine — pushing an issue that has resonated with voters as the coronavirus pandemic enters its 20th month.
Ayala, a state delegate representing Prince William, questioned Sears’s ability to serve in the state’s second-highest office, saying Virginians have a right to know that elected leaders consider their health a high priority during a pandemic that, as of Thursday, has led to more than 13,000 covid-19 deaths in the state.
“Real leadership is about leading by example,” Ayala, who has been vaccinated, said in a statement. “Real leadership is not being evasive and hiding from Virginians at a time when they need to hear from you most.”
Sears, a former state delegate in Norfolk, has repeatedly refused to say publicly whether she’s gotten a coronavirus vaccination. She did not respond to requests for comment from The Washington Post, but she told CNN that she considers that information to be private.
In a social media post Thursday, Sears repeated that stance, saying that while she encourages everyone to get the vaccine, “no one should be forced to disclose their vaccination status.”
Like Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, Sears has said she is against imposing vaccine mandates such as the policy Gov. Ralph Northam (D) implemented requiring state employees to show proof they’re fully vaccinated or submit to coronavirus testing every week.
But Youngkin has been public about receiving a coronavirus vaccine while also encouraging others to get immunized. Sears — who has also opposed mask mandates — has been less open about the issue, at times appearing at crowded indoor campaign events without a face covering, despite a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation for masks to continue to be worn inside in areas of substantial or high disease transmission.
A Washington Post-Schar School poll last month found that vaccine mandates are popular with Virginia voters — although that support is sharply divided by party. Democrats heavily favor mandates for schools and businesses, as does a small majority of independents. A majority of Republicans oppose them. [...]
McAuliffe recently launched a campaign, “Virginia is for Vaccine Lovers,” which outlines his plan to get every eligible Virginian vaccinated against the coronavirus. During their debate last month, McAuliffe linked Youngkin’s position on mandates to “anti-vaccine rhetoric” in states such as Florida. [...]
On Thursday, Ayala called the statewide elections “a life or death matter.”
“It’s the deciding factor between whether we move forward and build back better from this pandemic, or if we backslide and the lives and rights of Virginians suffer as a result,” she said at the news conference. [...]