Governor Greg Abbott of the southwestern U.S. state of Texas issued an executive order Monday banning all COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the state by any entity.
“No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19,” the order states.
Abbott is one of several Republican governors in the United States who have clashed with President Joe Biden’s initiatives to curb the nearly two-year long pandemic, including banning local governments and school districts from imposing mandatory face masks.
President Biden issued an order last month directing all businesses with 100 or more employees to either get their employees fully vaccinated or face weekly testing, along with a mandatory vaccination order for all health care workers, federal employees and federal contractors.
Two major Texas-based companies, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, have announced mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for their large workforces in recent days. U.S.-based technology giants Facebook and Google, which both maintain large offices in Texas, have also imposed mandatory vaccination orders on their employees.
Abbott, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this year, said in his order that “vaccines are strongly encouraged for those eligible to receive one, but must always be voluntary for Texans.” He said he will encourage the state legislature to enshrine his order into law during an upcoming special session.
But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said “we know that mandates work” during an interview Monday on the cable news network CNN. Fauci said that although health officials are reluctant to issue such directives, he acknowledged that “sometimes mandates actually can help in that regard — as sensitive an issue as that is, it is really getting people more vaccinated.”
In the sports world, the head coach of the National Hockey League’s new Seattle Kraken franchise says five players have entered COVID-19 protocols and will not be with the team for Tuesday’s season opener against the Las Vegas Knights. Dave Hakstol told reporters Monday that Jared McCann, Joonas Donskoi, Marcus Johansson and Jamie Oleksiak were placed on the protocol list that day, joining teammate Calle Jarnkrok, who was placed on the list just last week. Kraken General Manager Ron Francis told the Associated Press at the start of the team’s pre-season training camp that the team’s entire roster had been vaccinated.
Also on Monday, unions in the western U.S. states of California and Oregon representing more than 24,000 nurses and other health care workers with health care consortium Kaiser Permanente announced their members have authorized a strike, an organized employee work stoppage, citing chronic understaffing and other poor working conditions exposed during the coronavirus pandemic and a new wage and benefits system they say will lead to lower pay and lesser benefits for newer employees.
The unions are required to give Kaiser Permanente 10 days’ notice before the strike begins, giving both sides time to reach a deal.
Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.