Arkansas governor speaks out against federal vaccine mandate

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 11:55 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is speaking out against President Joe Biden’s federal vaccination mandate.

Biden’s announcement last week for all companies with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccines or weekly COVID-19 tests drew a firestorm of opposition from many GOP lawmakers.

Hutchinson joined in the call for the president to back off.

“And so it is counter-productive and in my judgment will increase vaccine hesitancy,” said Hutchinson.

Hutchinson made his stance known during his weekly COVID-19 media briefing Tuesday.

He said he supports some vaccine mandates, like in the military or the authority of states to require vaccines in places, like schools. Hutchinson said broad mandates with private businesses simply go too far.

“I should emphasize that I continue to advocate for everyone that is eligible to be vaccinated. That is the message and this debate about mandates is a side attraction, which withdraws really from the greater voice we’ve had in encouraging vaccinations,” Hutchinson said.

About 50 percent of Arkansans over the age of 12 have been fully immunized.

Tuesday, the governor made his case for why vaccination works. The state has seen a 92 percent increase in COVID-19 cases of people under the age of 12 since January.

The vaccine is only approved for people 12 and older.

“If you look at the next age group, which is 19 to 24, 35 percent vaccination rate and you’re dropping now in the new cases in that age group, this really makes the case for vaccinations,” said Hutchinson said.

With each age group, there’s a higher vaccination rate and subsequently, a lower new case rate with each group.

Hutchinson said the key is to continue with a “boots on the ground” approach, encouraging vaccinations in various communities to help individuals make the decision for themselves.

But there has been proof that mandates work quicker.

Delta Airlines said in the two weeks since announcing a $200 monthly fee for the unvaccinated, 20 percent of the $20,000 unvaccinated workers got the shot.

Health leaders also said they have plenty of supplies available of the monoclonal antibody treatment.

Officials said if you are in a moderate or high-risk situation, then you should get the treatment as soon as possible.

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