Brookl& Middle School science teacher Michelle Taylor speaks to lớn President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden as they tour Brookland Middle School, Friday. (APhường Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Joe Biden, with first lady Jill Biden, speaks during a visit at Brooklvà Middle School in northeast Washington, Friday. Biden has encouraged every school district khổng lồ promote vaccines, including with on-site clinics, to protect students as they return lớn school amid a resurgence of the coronavirus. (APhường Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s aggressive sầu push khổng lồ require millions of U.S. workers to lớn get vaccinated against the coronavirus is running inlớn a wall of resistance from Republican leaders threatening everything from lawsuits to civil disobedience, plunging the country deeper inlớn culture wars that have sầu festered since the onphối of the pandemic.
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In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster says he will fight “khổng lồ the gates of hell to lớn protect the liberty and livelihood of every South Carolinian.” South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, says she is preparing a lawsuit. And J.D. Vance, a conservative sầu running for a U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, is calling on businesses to lớn ignore mandates he describes as Washington’s “attempt to bully and coerce citizens.”
“Only mass civil disobedience will save us from Joe Biden’s naked authoritarianism,” Vance says.
Biden is hardly backing down. In a visit to lớn a school Friday, he accused the governors of being “cavalier” with the health of young Americans, và when asked about foes who would tệp tin legal challenges, he retorted, “Have sầu at it.”
The opposition follows Biden’s announcement Thursday of a major plan lớn tame the coronavi khuẩn as the highly contagious Delta variant drives 1,500 deaths and 150,000 cases a day. Biden is mandating that all employers with more than 100 workers require their employees to lớn be vaccinated or demo for the virut weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. Another 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have sầu lớn be vaccinated, as will all employees of the executive sầu branch and contractors who vì chưng business with the federal government.
The move sầu brought Republican outrage from state capitals, Congress & the chiến dịch trail, including from many who have sầu supported vaccinations and have sầu urged their constituents to lớn take the shots.
“The vaccine itself is life-saving, but this unconstitutional move is terrifying,” tweeted Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves.
Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who has promoted the vaccines’ safety to his constituents, said, “The right path is built upon explaining, educating and building trust, including explaining the risks/benefits/pros/cons in an honest way so a person can make their own decision.”
More than 208 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, but some 80 million remain unvaccinated, driving infections. There are now about 300% more new daily COVID-19 infections, about two-and-a-half times the hospitalizations và nearly twice the number of deaths as at the same time last year.
While breakthrough infections vì chưng happen among muốn the vaccinated, those cases tend lớn be far less severe, with the vast majority of deaths and serious illnesses occurring ahy vọng those who have sầu not received shots.
The pandemic is worsening in many of the states where governors are most loudly protesting the president’s actions. South Carolimãng cầu, for example, is averaging more than 5,000 new cases per day & has the nation’s second-highest infection rate. A hospital system there started canceling elective sầu surgeries this week lớn không lấy phí staff khổng lồ help with a crush of COVID-19 patients.
In a section of Idaho, overwhelmed hospitals have implemented new crisis standards to lớn ration care for patients. And in Georgia, hospitals have been turning away ambulances bringing emergency or ICU patients.
“I am so disappointed that particularly some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities,” Biden said during his school visit. “This isn’t a game.”
But Republicans and some union officials say the president is overreaching his constitutional authority. They take issue, in particular, with the idea that millions could thảm bại their jobs if they refuse to take the shots.
“That’s a ridiculous choice,” said Mississippi Gov. Reeves.
Biden, however, says he’s doing what needs khổng lồ be done lớn fight resistance that has continued despite months of encouragement và incentives. In his White House nhà trắng speech announcing the new measures, he was visibly frustrated, criticizing the remaining holdouts & accusing some elected officials of “actively working khổng lồ undermine the fight against COVID-19.”
“Instead of encouraging people lớn get vaccinated and mask up, they’re ordering Mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from COVID in their communities,” he said.
Court fights are sure to follow in a number of states.
Vaccine mandates are supported by a small majority of Americans. An August poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found majorities tư vấn requiring vaccinations for health care workers, teachers at K-12 schools and public-facing workers lượt thích those who work in restaurants & stores. Overall, 55% bachồng vaccine mandates for government workers. And about half of working adults favor vaccine mandates at their own workplaces.
But the numbers are deeply polarized, with Democrats far more likely lớn tư vấn mandates than Republicans, who have also been less supportive when it comes to getting shots themselves.
While dem& for vaccinations has risen over the summer, a persistent number of Americans have said they have no intention of ever receiving them.
GOPhường pollster Frank Luntz, who has held focus groups and worked with the Biden administration lớn try to combat vaccine hesitance, says that, without further measures, Biden is likely khổng lồ see vaccinations top out at about 75% of the population.
“The only way to exceed that, which he needs to for herd immunity, is lớn mandate it,” Luntz said. “It will make a lot of people angry and even more resistant, but those who are simply hesitant will act now. He’s done the best he can under the circumstances.”
Still, many Republicans are unmoving & unforgiving, especially those who are running for office và see the issue as one that could motivate Republican voters to lớn turn out in next year’s midterm elections.
Mike Gibbons, who is running for the U.S. Senate in Ohio, accused “Joe Biden and his Big Brother administration” of having “crossed inlớn authoritarian territory.”
“The American people have sầu a right khổng lồ assess the risks và benefits of the vaccine and make the decision on what is best for themselves and their families,” he said. “That decision should be made by doctors and the individual, not the government.”
With the midterms coming, Drew McKissick, South Carolina’s GOP. chairman, says he imagines Democrats in his state being tied to lớn their party’s “radical liberal” policies.
“South Carolinians don’t take kindly khổng lồ mandates. They never have sầu,” McKissiông chồng said, arguing the national political tenor is “going to put (Democrats) more in a corner.”
But Steve sầu Schale, a Democratic strategist who leads the pro-Biden super PAC Unite the Country, which has also done polling showing support for mandates, said he’s not especially concerned about potential political backlash. He argued those who are most likely to lớn be angered by the move sầu are probably already Biden critics.
“Of all the things I worry about in the midterms,” he said, “that doesn’t scare me.”