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Justice opposes Biden vaccine mandate, but won’t prohibit business-imposed mandates

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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice expressed his disapproval of a vaccine mandate for private businesses announced by President Joe Biden, but would not support state legislation to prohibit such businesses from imposing their own mandates.

“What president Biden is doing right now … making it mandatory … I absolutely think that that is wrong,” Justice said in a news conference on Friday.

Biden announced a new rule on Thursday, which will require private businesses that employ 100 or more people to require all workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or to supply weekly tests for unvaccinated workers. Some Republican lawmakers have threatened legal action against the administration. Although Justice did not hint at joining a lawsuit, he said he does not expect the mandate to ever go into effect.

The new rule, which would be promulgated through OSHA, would affect about 100 million people nationwide.

The Cardinal Institute for Public Policy, a free-market think tank, also expressed opposition to the mandate.

“Government should focus on the persuasion of the vaccine's merits,” a spokesperson said. “Blanket mandates fail to reduce existing skepticism and threaten the businesses that should be trusted to operate as they see fit. This decision will only lead to more division.”

Justice said the government should not be involved in the decisions of private businesses, but that if a business wants to impose its own vaccine mandate on workers, “more power to them.” Some Republican lawmakers intend to call a special session to pass legislation to prohibit private companies from creating that kind of mandate. The governor said it was “almost comical” that Republicans would want to impose restrictions on business operations.

“We’re talking about intervening in businesses’ business,” Justice said of the Republican proposal. “...We’re talking about putting a mandate on [them].”

Despite his opposition to mandates, the governor encouraged all eligible West Virginians to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. When prompted by a reporter, the governor even said he would consider new incentive programs to urge businesses to encourage vaccination for their workers.

“We’re going to continue to lose people in this surge and it brings a level of sadness over all of us,” Justice said. “We offer up our prayers to all those we’ve lost, and we offer our prayers that we’ll all realize that going unvaccinated is really making a big mistake.”

West Virginia has continued to have some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

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Tags: News, State, West Virginia, Coronavirus

Original Author: Tyler Arnold, The Center Square

Original Location: Justice opposes Biden vaccine mandate, but won’t prohibit business-imposed mandates

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