Governor of Texas Greg Abbott, the Texas Governor, issued Monday’s executive order prohibiting any entity, even private business, to impose a COVID-19 vaccination mandate on workers. He also asked state legislators to adopt a similar ban.
This move comes as the Biden administration prepares to issue rules that will require employers with more than 100 employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus or have their workers tested weekly. Many major companies, including Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, based in Texas, have indicated that they will abide by this federal mandate.
Abbott stated in his order that no Texas entity can force a person to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
Abbott was previously vaccinated, and later tested positive for COVID-19. He noted in his order that vaccines were strongly encouraged for all those who are eligible, but must be always voluntary for Texans.
Texas has recently seen a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases. However, the death toll from the new surge in the delta variant is rapidly increasing and Texas now stands at 67,000 total deaths since the pandemic started in 2020.
Abbott requested that lawmakers address the issue during the special session. He also called for the redrawing of voting maps and the addition of restrictions regarding transgender student athletes. Montana passed a law that prohibits employers from mandating vaccines for workers. Several states have stated explicitly that schools cannot be required to get vaccinations.
Abbott had previously prohibited vaccine mandates from state and local government agencies. However, private companies have been able to make their own rules for workers until now. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Abbott’s executive order would be challenged in court.
Abbott’s new order has political implications. Two candidates are pushing for the two-term Republican, former state senator Don Huffines, and former Florida congressman and Texas state party chair Allen West. They have both attacked Abbott’s COVID-19 policies, and strongly opposed vaccine mandates.
He knows the direction the wind blows. Huffines tweeted that Huffines knows conservative Republican voters are tired and frustrated by his failed leadership.
Recently, West was positive for COVID-19. Although he was temporarily hospitalized, he also tweeted that he is opposed to vaccine mandates. West posted Monday that he was back home on his social media accounts.