vaccine

Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order on Monday to prevent any entity or private business in Texas from mandating vaccines for its employees.

The directive by Abbott is in direct conflict with President Joe Biden’s planned rule requiring employers with more than 100 employees to be vaccinated or be subjected to weekly testing. The order from the White House is going through the process of approval with the Department of Labor.

“In another instance of federal overreach, the Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas’ continued recovery from the COVID-19 disaster,” Abbott said in the order.

There are multiple businesses in or near El Campo with more than 100 employees, including Greenleaf Nursery, H-E-B, Leedo Cabinetry and Absolute Pipeline Integrity.

The governor’s order comes after the White House announced all federal employees must be vaccinated. 

Shortly after the announcement, President Joe Biden also said his administration was working on an order to require employers with more than 100 employees to have a vaccine requirement or weekly testing.

Surrounding businesses did not respond to an L-N request for comment as of press time Friday.

Despite Abbott’s order, some major employers, including Southwest Airlines headquartered in Dallas, have already said they will abide by the federal guidelines.

“I’ve never been in favor of corporations imposing that kind of a mandate,” Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said. “But the executive order from President Biden mandates that all federal employees and then all federal contractors, which covers all the major airlines, have to have a (vaccine) mandate.”

The vaccine mandate proposed by President Biden is an effort to achieve herd immunity in the United States and stop the current COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been more than 44 million COVID-19 cases in the United States and 720,000 deaths. Texas has had 67,000 people die of COVID-19. Although positive cases and hospitalizations continue to go down, there were 190 reported deaths on Oct. 14, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Congressman Michael Cloud, R-Victoria, is working to fight against any mandates for his constituents, including those in Wharton County.

 “I am happy that there are vaccines and therapeutics available for people to make their personal choice on whether they want to use them or not,” Cloud said. “We cross a very dangerous line when the government can demand what you put in your body. That is a line we can’t cross.”

With dueling federal and state government orders, the provisions are sure to end up in court.

“We are doing what we can to push back on any sort of mandate,” Cloud said. “There are companies with more than 100 employees who want to fight back, and we are working to help build the case for them.”

Although there has been an announcement of a vaccine mandate, there has yet to be any legislation or executive order signed by the president to make that officially happen. 

If and when it does happen, the courts will ultimately decide whether the state or federal orders are legal and enforceable.

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