Governor Hutchinson stated Thursday evening that he believes President Biden’s latest mandate, that private businesses require employees to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, is the wrong approach.
The Biden administration rolled out expansive rules on Thursday which mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated, or test for the virus weekly. These mandates would affect nearly 80 million American workers. Millions of health care facility workers that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid will also have to be fully vaccinated.
Hutchinson is a Republican, as well as chairman the National Governors Association, and compared Biden’s order to a push by some conservatives to prohibit private businesses from requiring vaccinations.
“I have been consistent in the freedom of businesses to require their employees to be vaccinated, and I have opposed the government from saying businesses cannot exercise that freedom,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “The same principle should protect the private sector from government overreach that requires them to vaccinate all employees.”
Several other Republicans expressed concern for the new rule, including Arkansas Senator Trent Garner, who urged Hutchinson to call a special session in response to the mandate.
“We must fight back against this massive government overreach,” GOP Sen. Garner tweeted.
Some of Arkansas’ (and the nation’s) largest employers already require employees to be vaccinated, including Tyson Foods and Walmart. Cities across the state, such as Little Rock and Fayetteville, are now offering vaccine incentive programs. And several hospitals in the state have also announced vaccine requirements for their employees.
As of Thursday, there are 508 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units around the state and 315 on ventilators, and only 26 ICU beds are available in the state. Arkansas currently ranks 13th in the country for new cases per capita, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.