Arkansas governor accepts vaccine mandates work despite allowing people to opt out

States banning companies from instituting mandates are taking the ‘wrong approach’, says GOP politician

John Bowden
Wednesday 20 October 2021 14:36
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Arkansas Gov Asa Hutchinson toed a fine line on the issue of vaccine mandates during a conversation on Sunday with NBC’s Chuck Todd.

Speaking on Meet The Press, Mr Hutchinson agreed the premise presented by Mr Todd, who showed the state’s vaccination rate to make his point that vaccine mandates instituted by large employers in Arkansas had led to a surge of jabs in the state.

At the same time, however, he rejected the idea of either letting states or the federal government institute those same mandates.

“I accept that” vaccine mandates lead to more Americans receiving the vaccine, Mr Hutchinson responded.

“Let me make it clear that when I say I don't believe we ought to be engaging in mandates, I'm speaking of the government mandates, whether it's a federal government mandate or a state government mandate,” he continued.

The governor then went on to attack states that had taken steps to prevent private companies from enforcing their own Covid-19 guidelines. Though he did not name any leaders or states by name, his remarks were a clear reference to the efforts of Texas Gov Greg Abbott, who issued an executive order banning companies and other entities in his state from forcing workers, customers or others to show proof of vaccination.

“I am a defender of the employer's right to provide a healthy workplace,” said the governor. “You would have just as many workers say, ‘I don't want to work there because it's not a healthy workplace, because not everybody's going to be vaccinated.’ The employers are in a tough position. They would have the prerogative to make those decisions and I support that.”

Mr Hutchinson, a Republican, has not echoed the same scepticism of masks and vaccines that other members of his party, including some with national aspirations, have displayed in recent months though he recently let a bill become law in his state without a signature that would require companies to allow workers to opt out of vaccination mandates.

The point of such actions are purely political; like the Texas executive order, the Arkansas law will likely be found to be superseded by the action taken at the federal level should a court challenge arise. Republicans who pass such laws still score political points with their base, however, who see the efforts as resistance to supposed coercive acts by the federal government.

Mr Hutchinson has publicly criticised such efforts as counterproductive when states like Arkansas are trying to increase the rate at which residents are receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, even as other members of his own party falsely deride the vaccine as untested and dangerous.

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