Vocal Orange County Opponent Of Vaccine Mandates Has Died At 46. Friend Says It Was COVID Complications
Orange County Deputy DA Kelly Ernby — an active member of the local GOP who spoke out against COVID vaccination mandates — has died. She was 46.
The Republican Party of Orange County said Monday evening that Ernby, who was the organization's precincts operations chair, "died unexpectedly after a brief illness."
The statement also said the party would share available information "on the family’s wishes for condolences and services, we will provide as instructed … keeping their privacy and wishes paramount."
It made no mention of COVID.
Ben Chapman, who chairs the Greater Costa Mesa Republicans, said in a tweet Monday about Erby's death that he "lost a dear friend to COVID complications." He called Ernby "an inspiration to many" in Orange County.
Ernby ran for a state Assembly seat in 2020 and was expected to run again.
Orange County DA Todd Spitzer said in a statement that his office "is utterly heartbroken" by Ernby's "sudden and unexpected passing." He was criticized by some on social media for failing to address Ernby's anti-vaccine mandate stance.
She was also remembered by other prominent Orange County Republicans.
Wagner and Ernby both attended a small rally of vaccine mandate opponents in early December covered by the Daily Titan, Cal State Fullerton's student newspaper. In a speech at the rally, Ernby used her remarks to emphasize the importance of free choice, describing a bipartisan split where she claimed Democrats embrace socialism and Republicans represent freedom.
“There’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now,” she said.
While L.A. County has vaccine mandates for its massive county workforce, no requirements are in place for Orange County employees. Unlike Los Angeles and many other counties, OC has not placed additional mandates on businesses beyond what the state or federal government requires.