Gov. Stitt, AG O’Connor speak out against President Biden’s vaccine mandate following U.S. COVID-19 update presser

Coronavirus
President Joe Biden delivers an update on the COVID-19 response and vaccination program, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021

President Joe Biden delivers an update on the COVID-19 response and vaccination program, in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – President Joe Biden addressed the country’s coronavirus response Thursday, where he touched on the debate over his sweeping vaccination mandates and the potential approval of booster shots.

“Every day, we see more businesses implement vaccination requirements and the mounting data shows that they work,” Biden said. “Businesses and organizations are implementing requirements are seeing their vaccination rates rise by an average of 20% or more to well over 90% the number of employees vaccinated.”

Speaking at the White House, Biden says employer requirements that their workers be vaccinated are effective.

He added: “Vaccination requirements should not be another issue that divides us.”

The mandate has prompted backlash from governors and employers alike, including Oklahoma’s own Gov. Kevin Stitt.

In the YouTube video, Gov. Stitt slams the Biden administration’s latest COVID-19 mitigation tactics.

Full transcript:

I’ve heard from many Oklahomans who have concerns about President Biden’s vaccine mandate for businesses.

I want to address those directly.

This action is not just federal overreach.

It’s unconstitutional.

I’ve talked about this with our Attorney General, John O’Connor.

And I know he’s on our side.

He’s ready to take President Biden to court the second the rules are made public.

President Biden’s administration has no respect for individual freedoms.

I cannot believe we have a president who wants to force Americans to choose between a vaccine and their job.

The people this is affecting aren’t just statistics.

They’re real Oklahomans with real concerns.

They’re brave nurses and caretakers.

They’re expecting mothers and fathers.

They’re first responders and brave law enforcement.

Getting the vaccine is a personal choice. Period.

Listen, I got the vaccine after talking with my doctor – because that was best for me.

Many are choosing to do the same.

In fact, over 71% of Oklahomans 18+ have chosen to get the vaccine.

And among our most vulnerable population, Oklahomans 65 and older, 93% have made the decision to receive the vaccine.

We know the COVID vaccine is our best defense against severe illness.

But static, one-size-fits all mandates simply do not fit the reality we are in today.

In Oklahoma cases and hospitalizations are down nearly 50%.

As this virus evolves, so does the science and the treatments available, including natural immunity.

That is one reason why, as I have stated before:

I don’t believe it’s the government’s job to dictate policies to private companies.

Just as I believe Joe Biden can’t tell businesses they have to mandate a vaccine –

I don’t believe the government should tell a company they can’t.

Businesses should have the freedom to make decisions based on their circumstances.

When the government starts to pick winners and losers, we’re headed down a slippery slope.

I’ve heard from thousands of employees across the state who feel they’ve been dealt an unfair hand.

I’ve heard from pregnant, soon-to-be mothers who are faced with an impossible choice: Get the vaccine or lose your job.

I ran a business before I became Governor.

And I can’t understand putting my employees – my friends – in that position.

Companies should allow exemptions for religious, medical, or personal reasons.

Let’s put Oklahoma common sense before DC politics.

We live in the greatest country in the world.

Where our Constitution protects individual freedoms.

And as your Governor I will always stand up for your Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness.

Thank you.

God bless you.

And God bless the great state of Oklahoma.

Gov. Kevin Stitt

Attorney General John O’Connor also released a statement against the latest federal mandates.

“There are currently no rules that require employers to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for employees.   I urge Oklahoma employers to disregard the Biden Administration’s wishes to the contrary.  In the event federal emergency rules are issued that place such an unlawful demand upon employers, our office will be joined by other state Attorneys General across the country to quickly sue and seek an injunction against any implementation or enforcement.

Oklahomans should have the right to make their own personal health decisions for themselves and their families.  Employers that are mandating vaccines are unfortunately doing so upon their own initiative.  Religious, medical, and personal exemptions should be uniformly approved by those employers at the very least.”

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor

Oklahoma State Medical Association President Mary Clarke also released a statement following Gov. Stitt’s video announcement.

“While we don’t always agree with the governor on public health issues, the Oklahoma State Medical Association applauds his strong statement that businesses should keep their employees healthy without interference from state government. In fact, according to a poll conducted by Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates in July, a majority of Oklahomans oppose government actions that would limit private companies’ ability to require vaccinations.

We must all do our part to keep the community safe. This includes allowing our schools and businesses the freedom to develop mitigation efforts that can slow the spread of this terrible virus.

Regardless of any mandate, we encourage all those eligible to get vaccinated. We also appreciate the Governor for promoting this safe and effective method that protects our fellow Oklahomans.”

Mary Clarke, President of Oklahoma State Medical Association

Last week, U.S. Oklahoma Representative, James Lankford called for the repeal of the mandate.

“I do think it should be a choice. I think individuals should be able to choose whether they get the vaccine or not. I encourage people to get the vaccine. I got the vaccine, everyone in my family got the vaccine. We encourage people to do it. Literally, you can return back to the workplace and some other places with a sense of confidence after you have it. But there are some individuals that have already had COVID, don’t want to take the vaccine as well, they have recovered from it as well. They already have the antibodies. Other folks are in cancer treatment, other things, other folks have religious issues with it. So I want to make sure those individuals are also honored. We’re Americans here. We’re not trying to be able to compel someone to be able to take this vaccine at this point. We’re very grateful we’re seeing the numbers actually drop significantly, and hopefully those continue to be able to drop. But in the meantime, I pushed back. Met with the White House again yesterday, met with them the day before, continue to be able to push on the most basic thing; Americans need to have the right to be able to choose. Let’s encourage but not mandate,” said Sen. James Lankford to KFOR.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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