NorCal city official ousted over remarks suggesting that sick, old and homeless should be left to ‘meet their natural course’ amid pandemic

California
Juana Gomez, 50, from North Hollywood, wears a face mask and gloves, while using a trash bag to protect against the rain, as she waits in line to receive food at a Food Bank distribution for those in need as the coronavirus pandemic continues on April 9, 2020, in Van Nuys, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

VAN NUYS, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 09: Juana Gomez, 50, from North Hollywood, wears a face mask and gloves, while using a trash bag to protect against the rain, as she waits in line to receive food at a Food Bank distribution for those in need as the coronavirus pandemic continues on April9, 2020 in Van Nuys, California. Organizers said they had distributed food for 1,500 families amid the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

A Northern California city official has been ousted after he suggested on social media that sick, old and homeless people should be left to meet their “natural course in nature” during the coronavirus pandemic.

City council members in Antioch, a city of about 110,000 people 35 miles east of Oakland, voted unanimously Friday night to remove Ken Turnage II from his post as chairman of the city’s planning commission.

NBC Bay Area reports there was a swift uproar after Turnage characterized people with weak immune systems as a drain on society.

He wrote on Facebook: “the World has been introduced to a new phrase Herd Immunity which is a good one. In my opinion we need to adapt a Herd Mentality. A herd gathers it ranks, it allows the sick, the old, the injured to meet its natural course in nature.”

As for homeless people, he added that the virus would “fix what is a significant burden on our society and resources that can be used.”

Turnage later deleted the post but refused to resign or back down from his comments. During the two-hour council meeting held on Zoom, Turnage said his personal opinion had no bearing on his duties as a planning commissioner and that removing him would violate his freedom of speech.

But city officials countered that his posting caused a loss in confidence and created a disruption to the city. Mayor Steve Wright said politicians are held to a higher standard by representing the city to all.

After the council stripped him of his post, Turnage said that if residents had lost confidence in him, “that’s their opinion and I can’t help that.”

“It’s not like it used to be,” he lamented, “when you could have an opinion, talk about it and then sit down and have a beer together and talk about football.”

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