Washington State University fired its football coach, Nick Rolovich, and four of his assistants for failing to comply with the state’s Covid-19 vaccination mandate, the school announced on Monday.
Mr. Rolovich, the state’s highest-paid employee, applied for a religious exemption this month from the mandate, among the strictest in the country. The status of the exemption request was unclear when the firings occurred.
“This is a disheartening day for our football program,” the university’s athletic director, Pat Chun, said in a statement. “Our priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of the young men on our team.”
The school said that the team’s defensive coordinator, Jake Dickert, would become acting head coach.
Monday was the deadline Gov. Jay Inslee set for state workers to be fully vaccinated or receive a religious or medical exemption. A state agency report from earlier this month showed that about 90 percent of employees covered by the mandate had been vaccinated.
Earlier in the day, a Superior Court judge rejected a request by hundreds of public employees for a temporary injunction blocking the mandate, though their lawsuit can go forward.
Mr. Rolovich, who was in the second year of a five-year, $15.6 million contract, had become the public face of the showdown with Mr. Inslee.
As Monday approached, the drama around the deadline intensified — fueled in part by the Cougars’ three-game winning streak, which has kept them in contention for the Pac-12 Conference North Division title.
The players, who had backed Mr. Rolovich, were informed about the firings Monday night.
After Sofia Kravetskaya got vaccinated with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine last December, she became a pariah on the Moscow playground where she takes her young daughter.
“When I mentioned I volunteered in the trials and I got my first shot, people started running away from me,” she said. “They believed that if you were vaccinated, the virus is inside you and you’re contagious.”
For Ms. Kravetskaya, 36, the reaction reflected the prevalent mistrust in the Russian authorities that has metastasized since the pandemic began last year. That skepticism, pollsters and sociologists say, is the main reason only one third of the country’s population is fully vaccinated, despite the availability of free inoculations.
The reluctance to get vaccinated is producing an alarming surge, experts say. On Saturday, Russia exceeded 1,000 deaths in a 24-hour period for the first time since the pandemic began. (Britain, with a little less than half the population, had 57 deaths in a recent 24-hour period.) On Monday, Russia broke another record with more than 34,000 new infections registered in the previous 24 hours.
Only about 42 million of Russia’s 146 million inhabitants have been fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said last week, a rate well below the United States and most countries in the European Union.
But even with a record-breaking death toll, the government has imposed few restrictions, and its vaccination campaign has floundered, sociologists say, because of a combination of apathy and mistrust.