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GOP’s Instant Opposition to President Biden’s Vaccine Mandates Signals Politicizing of COVID Isn’t Over

President Joe Biden’s aggressive push to require millions of U.S. workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus is running into a wall of resistance from Republican leaders threatening everything from lawsuits to civil disobedience, plunging the country deeper into culture wars that have festered since the onset of the pandemic.

The President isn’t backing down from the instant opposition from GOP officials who are themselves all vaccinated. In a visit to a school Friday, he accused the governors of being “cavalier” with the health of young Americans, and when asked about foes who would file legal challenges, he retorted, “Have at it.”

Joe Biden is not faking mask-wearing
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]
The pandemic is worsening in many of the states where governors are most loudly protesting the president’s actions. South Carolina, for example, is averaging more than 5,000 new cases per day and has the nation’s second-highest infection rate. A hospital system there started canceling elective surgeries this week to free staff to help with a crush of COVID-19 patients. South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster said he will fight “to the gates of hell to protect the liberty and livelihood of every South Carolinian.” South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, says she is preparing a lawsuit. And J.D. Vance, a conservative running for a U.S. Senate seat in Ohio, is calling on businesses to ignore mandates he describes as Washington’s “attempt to bully and coerce citizens.”

In the continued push to prevent the coronavirus from finding new and more vulnerable human hosts, the President 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.”

An August poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found majorities support requiring vaccinations for health care workers, teachers at K-12 schools, and public-facing workers like those who work in restaurants and stores. Overall, 55% back vaccine mandates for government workers. And about half of working adults favor vaccine mandates at their own workplaces. The numbers are deeply polarized, however, with Democrats far more likely to support mandates than Republicans, who have also been less supportive when it comes to getting shots themselves.

While demand for vaccinations has risen over the summer, a persistent number of Americans have said they have no intention of ever receiving them.



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