Updated after quote from State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst.

Dallas County Commissioner J.J. Koch (R) claims County Judge Clay Jenkins (D) will be forcing county staff to get vaccinated, may try to mandate vaccines countywide, and may potentially initiate another shutdown.

In a Facebook livestream on Friday, Koch said that “in four days,” Dallas County (at the direction of Jenkins) will be forcing all county staff to either get tested every week for COVID–19, show proof of vaccination, or be terminated.

According to Koch, the testing will not be offered on site, so staff will have to go to locations that offer it, like Walgreens, at the start of every week. “As a practical matter, getting tested every week is just not going to work,” he said. “You’ll be terminated if you don’t comply.” The only other option is providing proof of vaccination. “They are trying to circumvent the religious exemptions.”

Koch said it’s estimated the testing will cost taxpayers $300,000 to $400,000 a week.

Furthermore, from what Koch has heard, “they’re also setting up for the precedent of requiring vaccination in every place a mask is required.”

“I don’t know how they think they’re going to be able to do it, but that is what Judge Jenkins is pushing for,” Koch continued. “He is absolutely pushing for a vaccine mandate across Dallas County.” Koch said he hopes he’s wrong and this doesn’t happen. “As many of you know, I support vaccination, but I don’t support forcing people.”

But Koch added that Jenkins’ office may not stop there. “They are anticipating shutting down the county again. That’s going to be reflected in the budget.”

Citizens expressed their disapproval with this news. “We are adults and can make our own decisions based on our own circumstances,” posted Melanie Hancock.

“Most Americans aren’t against the vaccine, they’re against the use of force or coercion by their elected officials and how politicized this entire pandemic has become,” said Dallas resident Jelena Petrovic. “The last people on earth that should be giving anyone medical advice are politicians, on either side.”

“Medical tyranny. [Jenkins] must be stopped,” commented Lynn Davenport, encouraging citizens to protest at the next meeting of the Dallas County Commissioners Court, which is Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.

Koch thinks these moves are in response to citizens’ recent protest outside of Jenkins’ home, where they spoke out against the contested mask mandate. “I don’t think it’s just Judge Jenkins posturing to run for governor. I think he is totally off his rocker,” said Koch. He asked that in the future, citizens protest at government buildings, not Jenkins’ home.

Koch shared more of what’s happening behind the scenes, saying Jenkins is not working with any of the four county commissioners. “He is scaring the hell out of everyone in Dallas County government because he is forcing them to be entirely in opposition to what the governor has put forth.”

Koch points out such a position is contrary to how local government should be acting, according to state law. “Municipalities and the county are a creation of the state. The local government code creates the rules by which counties run,” Koch explained. “I think the only way to stop [Jenkins] is to pull the emergency powers in their entirety.”

Media inquiries to Gov. Greg Abbott, Jenkins, and Commissioners John Wiley Price (D), Elba Garcia (D), and Theresa Daniel (D) were not replied to before publication.

“Public entities like Dallas County are clearly prohibited from mandating vaccines for county employees under Governor Abbott’s executive order No. 38,” State Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R–Brenham) told Texas Scorecard.

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.