Washington State coach Nick Rolovich says he plans to comply with state's mandatory COVID-19 vaccine requirement

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Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich's refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine has reached an impasse. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued a mandate Wednesday that all state employees working in an educational role from K-12 to higher education must be vaccinated by Oct. 18 or risk losing their jobs. The mandate is similar to one Inslee issued Aug. 9 for other state employees and healthcare workers.

"Just like the state worker mandate, there are limited exceptions under law which employees may apply for, including legitimate medical reasons and sincerely held religious beliefs," Inslee's statement reads. "Individuals who refuse to get vaccinated will be subject to dismissal."

Inslee clarified that this mandate includes Rolovich, who has thus far declined to be inoculated against COVID-19. Rolovich hasn't explained his decision, which forced him to miss Pac-12 media day in July as the only coach in the conference who wasn't vaccinated. 

"As the Pac-12 Conference has required that all in-person participants at next week's Pac-12 Football Media Day be fully vaccinated, I will participate remotely and look forward to talking about our football team and the incredible young men in our program," Rolovich wrote in a July 21 statement. "I have elected not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine for reasons which will remain private."

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 14: Head coach Nick Rolovich of the Hawaii Warriors watches his team warm-up before the game against the Washington Huskies at Husky Stadium on September 14, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. The Washington Huskies top the Hawaii Warriors 52-20. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Nick Rolovich's refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine appears to be reaching an impasse. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

Rolovich: I plan on following mandate

Wednesday afternoon, Washington State's athletic department followed Inslee's announcement with a statement of its own and said that it would "work to ensure the mandates" were followed. 

“We applaud the efforts of Governor Inslee to protect the health and safety of the people of Washington,” the statement reads. “Washington State Athletics, including staff, coaches and student-athletes, will continue to follow all campus, local, state, Pac-12 and NCAA guidelines related to health and safety surrounding COVID-19, and we will work to ensure the mandates in the governor’s proclamation are followed.”

Thursday, Rolovich said that he planned on following Inslee's mandate. 

Rolovich said that other unvaccinated coaches on Washington State's staff would likely also comply.

 

Cougars have lowest inoculation rate in Pac-12

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News reports that Washington's State's 80% vaccination rate among players is the lowest in the Pac-12. Seven teams in the conference have at least 90% of their players vaccinated, according to the report. 

The COVID-19 vaccine has taken on extra urgency amid the Delta variant that's responsible for a growing outbreak across the U.S. As of Wednesday, COVID-19 has claimed more than 620,000 American lives and killed more than 4.3 million worldwide, per Johns Hopkins data.

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