The City of Odessa passed a resolution saying they will not enforce any COVID-19 mask or vaccine mandates implemented by the federal or state government. 

The resolution passed with six in favor and one council member abstaining. The Councilmembers voting in favor agreed that they would not subject their residents to mandates that “violate their right to freedom and liberty.”

The resolution states that the City of Odessa and the State of Texas were subject to injustices in the form of overreaching, government-imposed mandates during the COVID-19 lockdowns. They cite that harm was done to citizens of Odessa due to masking mandates, which violated “the free conduct a citizen should expect to enjoy,” and vaccine mandates, which violated “a citizen’s right to control their own body.” 

Furthermore, the resolution says the enforcement of such mandates puts law enforcement in an “unenviable position enforcing pointless mandates not based in science or enacted in law.”

City Councilmember Chris Hanie spoke before the vote, saying the council needs to pass this before lockdowns that destroyed many residents’ lives happen again.

“This is what we’re going to pass tonight,” said Hanie. “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.”

The resolution states that the City of Odessa will not enforce any mandate, including: 

  1. Requiring a person to wear a mask or any other face covering.
  2. Confining a citizen to their home.
  3. Requiring a business to alter its operations, including spacing requirements, modified hours of operation, or closing down the business.
  4. Requiring the administration of a vaccine within Odessa city limits. 

State Rep. Brian Harrison (R–Midlothian), who attended the council meeting in support of the resolution, told Texas Scorecard that he’s proud to stand with the city to protect medical freedom.

“Texans should be leading the fight against COVID tyranny, but since Texas House Leadership made the shocking decision to keep COVID vaccine mandates in Texas I’m proud to partner with local officials to help deliver medical freedom,” said Harrison. “With Biden trying to bring back COVID tyranny, hopefully this will inspire all elected Republicans to fight back.”

Texans for Vaccine Choice applauded the decision, saying they hope elected officials in Austin are taking notes. 

“Texans for Vaccine Choice is deeply grateful for the grassroots efforts across the state to pass strong resolutions in defense of Texans’ medical liberty,” said TFVC Political Director Michelle Evans. “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.”

TFVC is asking that Gov. Greg Abbott include the COVID-19 Vaccine Freedom Act in an expected special session of the legislature later this year. 

Emily Medeiros

Emily graduated from the University of Oklahoma majoring in Journalism. She is excited to use her research and writing skills to report on important issues around Texas.