Austin, Texas (Associated Press)-Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Monday prohibiting any entity, including private companies, from enforcing COVID- 19 Vaccine regulations and call on state legislators to incorporate similar bans into law.
The move comes as the Biden government will issue regulations requiring employers with more than 100 workers to be vaccinated or tested for coronavirus every week. Several major companies, including Texas-based American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, said they will comply with federal regulations.
“No entity in Texas can force any individual (including employees or consumers) to receive the COVID-19 vaccine because of their personal conscience, religious beliefs, or medical reasons (including previous recovery from COVID-19,” Abbott Wrote in his order.
Abbott had been vaccinated before and later tested positive for COVID-19. In his order, he pointed out that “people who are eligible for vaccination are strongly encouraged to vaccinate, but Texans must always voluntarily vaccinate.”
The number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations recently reported in Texas has recently decreased. However, since the start of the 2020 pandemic, due to the recent surge in deaths caused by the delta variant, the total death toll in the state has quickly approached 67,000.
The governor added the issue to the legislator’s agenda during the ongoing special session to address Abbott’s call for a redrawing of the voting map and new restrictions on transgender student athletes. Montana passed a law prohibiting employers from compulsory vaccinations for employees, and many states made it clear that schools cannot require vaccinations.
Abbott previously banned state and local government agencies from compulsory vaccination, but only now has it allowed private companies to set their own rules for employees. It is not clear whether Abbott’s latest executive order will face rapid court challenges.
Abbott’s new order also has political implications. The two-term Republican faces pressure from two candidates in the Republican primary election next year. Former State Senator Don Heffins and former Florida Congressman and Texas Party Chairman Allen West attacked Abbott. COVID-19 policy and strongly oppose vaccine authorization.
“He knows the direction of the wind. He knows that conservative Republican voters are tired of vaccine regulations and tired of him as a failed leader,” Heffens wrote on Twitter.
West recently tested positive for COVID-19. He was hospitalized briefly, but also stated on Twitter that he still opposed vaccination. West announced on his social media account on Monday that he had gone home.