Missouri Gov. Parson condemns Biden’s vaccine mandate, promises legal fight

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced Friday that his office will reject the Biden administrations new federal vaccine requirements calling it unconstitutional and promising a legal fight.

President Joe Biden announced Thursday new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and slow the spread of the Delta variant that is killing thousands each week.

The Biden administration announced that all employers with 100-plus employees must either mandate vaccines or test weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans.

“This assault on individual liberty and free enterprise is a poorly executed attempt by the Biden administration to reset after its disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Parson said. “With our southern border in crisis and as we are experiencing out-of-control inflation, President Biden is desperate to divert attention from his failures. However, Missouri will not be a pawn in this publicity stunt that seeks to force Missourians to disclose private health care decisions and dictate private business operations.”

A news release from the governor’s office Friday states “OSHA cannot dictate personal health care decisions for Missourians. Missouri is not under an OSHA state plan, and Parson will not allow state employees to be used to enforce this unconstitutional action.”

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who is running for U.S. Senate, tweeted Friday “Joe Biden doesn’t have the legal authority to force COVID vaccines on millions of Americans. His proposal is unlawful and historic in its overreach. Lawsuits are coming.”

More than 208 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, but some 80 million remain unvaccinated, driving infections. There are now about 300% more new daily COVID-19 infections, about two-and-a-half times the hospitalizations and nearly twice the number of deaths as at the same time last year.

While breakthrough infections do happen among the vaccinated, those cases tend to be far less severe, with the vast majority of deaths and serious illnesses occurring among those who have not received shots.

But Republicans and some union officials say the president is overreaching his constitutional authority. They take issue, in particular, with the idea that millions could lose their jobs if they refuse to take the shots.

Biden, however, says he’s doing what needs to be done to fight resistance that has continued despite months of encouragement and incentives. In his White House speech announcing the new measures, he was visibly frustrated, criticizing the remaining holdouts and accusing some elected officials of “actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19.”

Like Missouri, court fights are sure to follow in a number of states.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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