United States President Joe Biden addressed the nation on Thursday 29 July and has asked the 2 million federal workers to get themselves vaccinated or be subjected to frequent testing at least once a week. There would also be travel restrictions for the unvaccinated. The President appreciated the efforts of senior leaders such as Republican Mitch McConnell and Alabama state governor Kay Ivey for their efforts to call Americans for vaccination and explaining the benefits and added protection from the Delta strain to them. The president also announced an incentive of $100 to every person getting vaccinated.
Texas Governor Against Mask Mandates
While the President was complimenting State governors who are joining the crusade for vaccination, there are senior leaders and even some state Governors who do not think so. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has gone so far as to put his opposition to mask mandates in writing. Governor Abbott issued an executive order on Thursday 29 July, effectively banning government agencies to push for vaccination or ask anybody to show proof of vaccination. Governor Abbott also made a statement in support of his executive order, saying that the road ahead depends more on personal responsibility rather than forced government mandates. Governor Abbott has implemented almost the same directive in an earlier executive order on May 18, 2021. The Governor has also been penalizing local officials for enforcing Covid safety protocols.
Governor Abbott’s Thursday order also put a ban on officials imposing a fine of $1000 on people not following Covid safety protocols. On the contrary, any official enforcing vaccination or wearing masks will be fined $1000. Public and private companies are now prohibited from stopping the entry of employees for not getting themselves vaccinated. The Texas executive order, however, permitted nursing homes and clinics to ask for vaccination of their staff.
Governor Abbott, however, called on all hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics in his state of Texas to send reports to him and these would be sent to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Governor Abbot said that Texans are returning to normal life as they get their Covid-19 vaccine and return to normal working life but the vaccination is voluntary and never forced. He added that government should not ask Texans to show evidence of having been vaccinated and reveal private health information just to be allowed into work. The Governor calls this a vaccine passport and forbade organizations in his state to follow this passport protocol. He, however, added that they would continue to vaccinate more Texans in order to protect public health but it would not be at the cost of the personal freedom of fellow Texans.
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President Biden called the decision of the states of Texas and Mississippi to ban the compulsory wearing of masks as big mistake and called it neanderthal thinking and asked all Americans to adhere to CDC guidelines that are being updated in the light of continuous study and reliable research on the fluctuating and unpredictable behavior of the Delta variant of the Sars-COV-2 virus.
Meanwhile, Texas has reported a drop in Covid-19 infections. Governor Abbott has been asking for reports from hospitals and clinics in the state and has reports of a 13 month low in Covid cases and zero covid deaths since March 2020. The Governor further added to positive statistics in his state, declaring the lowest hospitalization in 11 months and the lowest 7-day positivity rate within the state of Texas.
All these indicate a conflict of beliefs and priorities. President Biden needs the support of all his state governors and congressmen if the looming third wave of the delta variant is to be stopped in its tracks and save the United States from loss of lives and economy.
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