Coronavirus: ESPN reporter Allison Williams to exit network, cites COVID-19 mandate

Veteran sideline reporter Allison Williams announced via social media on Friday that she intends to leave ESPN rather than comply with parent company Disney’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees.

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In a five-minute video posted to her Instagram account, Williams explained her decision, stating that she is “so morally and ethically not aligned” with the vaccine mandate.

She also cited anecdotal evidence of women experiencing health issues after being inoculated against the virus as a reason for her decision because she and her husband intend to have another child at some point, USA Today reported.

“Currently no evidence shows that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems (problems trying to get pregnant) in women or men,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated on its official website, adding, “the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.”

In a statement emailed to USA Today, ESPN declined to provide any specifics regarding Williams’ situation but stated: “We are going through a thorough review of accommodation requests on a case by case basis, and are granting accommodations consistent with our legal obligations. Our focus is on a safe work environment for everyone.”

Williams, who joined the sports news network in 2011, announced via Twitter on Sept. 9 that for the first time in 15 years would not be on the sidelines during ESPN’s college football broadcasts because she had declined the COVID-19 vaccine, violating Disney’s mandate that all staffers at live events be vaccinated by the beginning of August, Sporting News reported.

That mandate expands to all employees on Oct. 22, and Disney declined her accommodation request, prompting her resignation “effective next week,” the outlet reported.

“Ultimately, I cannot put a paycheck over principle, and I will not sacrifice something that I believe and hold so strongly to maintain a career,” Williams said in the video.

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