Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, came out on Friday against President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more employees, saying she doesn’t think it’s the “correct” or “most effective” move.
The Democratic governor, who is up for reelection next year, said she appreciates “the intention to keep people safe” but doesn’t think the administration’s vaccinate-or-test requirements serve as a “solution for Kansas.”
“It is too late to impose a federal standard now that we have already developed systems and strategies that are tailored for our specific needs,” she said.
“I will seek a resolution that continues to recognize the uniqueness of our state and builds on our on-going efforts to combat a once-in-a-century crisis,” she added.
Her disapproval of the administration’s move comes as many Republican governors and attorneys general have voiced their opposition to the vaccine requirements for businesses.
Under the rule issued this week, businesses with at least 100 employees have until Jan. 4 to require workers to either get vaccinated or undergo regular testing. Biden had issued an executive order earlier this year calling for the requirement, which is expected to cover 84 million people.
But several Republicans, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have pledged to challenge the Labor Department’s rule, saying it violates constitutional rights and will exacerbate current labor shortages in several industries. Some business groups, including in retail, have expressed worries on how it will affect the upcoming holiday season.
“Florida will be responding, and I think the rule’s going down. I just don’t think that there’s an adequate basis for it, and I think you’ve even seen people on their side acknowledge that they don’t have firm constitutional footing for this,” DeSantis said.
Missouri, along with 10 other states, filed a lawsuit against Biden and his administration objecting to the vaccinate-or-test policy. West Virginia’s attorney general also teamed up with six other states to sue the administration over the mandate.
Biden has defended the mandate, saying on Thursday that these requirements “have broad support” and are necessary because more than 50 million adults in the country remain unvaccinated.
“There have been no ‘mass firings’ and worker shortages because of vaccination requirements,” Biden said in a statement. “Despite what some predicted and falsely assert, vaccination requirements have broad public support.”
Officials also extended the deadline for federal contractors to get vaccinated, giving workers until Jan. 4 to align with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.
The administration predicts the latest federal mandate will save thousands of lives and prevent more than 250,000 hospitalizations in its first six months. Kansas has seen more than 6,400 COVID-19 deaths and beyond 15,000 hospitalizations throughout the pandemic.
Kansas is ranked in the middle of the pack for its vaccination rate, with the state government reporting 53.7 percent of the total population have gotten at least one dose, while less than half are fully vaccinated.