OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Several of Oklahoma’s elected officials are speaking out after President Joe Biden announced new rules Thursday that mandate all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly.
Biden announced the new requirements in a Thursday afternoon address from the White House as part of a new “action plan” to address the latest rise in coronavirus cases and the stagnating pace of COVID-19 shots that has raised doubts among the public over his handling of the pandemic.
This new mandate affects about 80 million private-sector Americans as well as the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid.
Biden is also signing an executive order to require vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government — with no option to test out. That covers several million more workers.
Now, Oklahoma’s leaders are reacting to the announcement.
Governor Kevin Stitt released the following statement:
“It is not the government’s role to dictate to private businesses what to do. Once again President Biden is demonstrating his complete disregard for individual freedoms and states’ rights. As long as I am governor, there will be no government vaccine mandates in Oklahoma. My administration will continue to defend Oklahoma values and fight back against the Biden administration’s federal overreach.”
Gov. Kevin Stitt
Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat released the following statement in opposition of the president’s vaccine mandate:
“This is a gross overreach by President Biden and I support our state’s efforts to protect Oklahoma employers and employees from this federal mandate. The vaccines are safe and effective, but it should remain a choice for each of us to decide whether to get vaccinated. The federal government should not interfere in the decision-making of a private business on the steps it takes to protect the health and safety of its employees and customers.
A federal mandate is a terrible way to convince more people to get vaccinated, and I am disappointed the president would choose this path rather than working alongside state and local officials, and private business, to further address this health care crisis.”
GREG TREAT, R-OKLAHOMA CITY
U.S. Representative Stephanie Bice also reacting:
“Yesterday, President Biden released his ‘Path Out of the Pandemic,’ a plan that requires Americans get vaccinated. Biden and his administration have previously stated that there would be no vaccine mandates. They lied. Through this order, Biden has placed the burden on American employers, forcing their employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly. These companies are still in recovery from the pandemic, searching for employees to fill empty positions, and now they must also comply with government mandates or be penalized. The Federal government must focus its efforts on rebuilding the economy, not continuing to encumber the private sector with commands and red tape.
This directive continues the long list of overreaching executive orders that began on day one of Biden’s term. As he laid out the details of this latest order, Biden said: ‘This is not about freedom or personal choice,’ but it is about this very thing. This type of federal overreach is unconstitutional, and yet another example of Democrats’ efforts to grab power at every opportunity. The RNC has already indicated their intent to challenge the authority of this executive order in federal court, a move I wholeheartedly support.
To be clear, I am proud of the work Operation Warp Speed played in creating this vaccine to combat this deadly disease and I encourage everyone who is able to get vaccinated, but businesses should not be forced to bear the brunt of that responsibility, it should be left to the individual to decide for themselves.”
Stephanie Bice (R-OK-05)
Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor says he’s preparing litigation to challenge President Joe Biden’s new COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
“We respect the right of Oklahoma businesses and individuals to make healthcare decisions for themselves and their families. My office will vigorously oppose any attempt by the federal government to mandate vaccines. We are preparing litigation to stand up for our rights and defend the rule of law against the overreach of the federal government.”
JOHN O’CONNOR, OKLAHOMA ATTORNEY GENERAL
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is calling some Republican governors “cavalier” for resisting his call for far-ranging new federal vaccine requirements.
“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 a visit to Brookland Middle School in northeast D.C. “This isn’t a game.”
First lady Jill Biden, who joined the president for the school visit, echoed Biden’s message that getting more Americans vaccinated was essential to keep schools open and helping working parents.
“We owe them a promise to keep their schools open as safe as possible,” the first lady said. “We owe them a commitment to follow the science. We owe them unity, so that we can fight the virus, not each other.”
The plan also ramps up production on face masks and COVID-19 tests, improves care for COVID patients and encourages states to require vaccines for employees.
“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said Thursday.
On Friday, data from the Oklahoma State Department of Health shows that the state has had 577,312 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since March of 2020.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oklahoma has seen 9,496 deaths from COVID-19.