Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issues executive order against federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2021, file photo, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delivers the State of the...
FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2021, file photo, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delivers the State of the State address in Jefferson City, Mo. A judge on Tuesday, Aug. 31, sided with Gov. Parson in his decision in June to end several federal programs that provided enhanced jobless benefits for Missourians. The Republican governor said it was meant to prod people back to work, but Missouri Jobs With Justice, which filed suit on behalf of unemployed Missourians, said the decision was damaging to many people who lost work during the COVID-19 pandemic. AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)(Jeff Roberson | AP)
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 4:43 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KY3/AP) - Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has issued an executive order in an effort to block federal vaccine requirements issued by President Joe Biden.

Gov. Parson on Thursday said his administration won’t help enforce President Joe Biden’s federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate in some limited instances. He announced an executive order Thursday.

Parson’s executive order bans his administration from enforcing the mandate or penalizing noncompliance, but only when people refuse coronavirus vaccination for religious or medical reasons.

While Biden has argued that the sweeping mandates will help end the deadly pandemic, Republicans nationwide have opposed the vaccination requirements and warned that they could exacerbate supply-chain problems.

“These federal mandates pose a significant risk to our state economy and workforce, and jeopardize public health by increasing vaccine hesitancy,” Parson wrote in his order.

Opponents, including Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield), say the governor’s executive order doesn’t lead to any changes.

“The governor’s executive order appears carefully crafted to do absolutely nothing – except promote the attorney general’s latest frivolous lawsuit at taxpayer expense. If these two put as much energy into fighting the pandemic as they do into fighting those fighting the pandemic, Missouri would be in a much stronger position,” said Rep. Quade in a statement Thursday.

Biden is expected to release details soon about implementing the mandate. The Democrat has said companies with at least 100 employees will have to require all their employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. The mandate for federal contractors goes into effect in December, and it does not have a testing option.

“Let me be clear, we continue to encourage all Missourians to get vaccinated,” Parson said. “We can support vaccination without supporting mandates. We are issuing this order to protect our system of government and the individual rights of Missourians to make their own health care decisions.”

Parson said Missouri, which ranks in the bottom 10 of states based on the percentage of the total population that have completed vaccinations, has been doing fine without mandates.

Close to half of Missourians have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the state health department. Of the population eligible to be vaccinated, those at least 12 years old, the vaccination rate is closer to 58%. More than 80% of Missourians 65 and older, who are considered at high risk for COVID-19 complications, are fully vaccinated.

Other Republican governors have taken similar stands against Biden’s vaccine requirement.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday directed the state’s executive-branch agencies not to cooperate with the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate, where possible. And Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Oct. 11 to bar private companies or any other entity from requiring vaccines.

Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced the state is suing the Biden administration over the vaccine mandate for federal contractors, and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Wednesday said he plans to sue, too.

Parson’s executive order also directs his administration to comply with any lawsuits Schmitt files against the federal vaccine mandate.

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