Texas governor pushes back against Joe Biden on Covid-19 vaccination law

Texas could become the second state after Montana to block a workplace law on vaccines

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, joined by 10 other governors, arrives at a press conference at Anzalduas Park, Texas. AP
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Texas is pushing back against US government Covid-19 regulations that will require employees to be vaccinated to keep their jobs.

Governor Greg Abbott is asking state legislators to block federal government legislation, which will apply to any company with more than 100 staff, although he has “strongly recommended” people get vaccinated on a voluntary basis.

“No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a Covid-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from Covid-19,” Mr Abbott said, issuing an executive order.

Despite Mr Abott’s pushback against Washington DC, Texas-based American Airlines and Southwest Airlines said they would abide by the federal mandate.

Montana has passed a law preventing employers from mandating workers receive vaccines, and a number of states have explicitly said schools cannot require vaccinations.

Mr Abbott previously barred vaccine mandates by state and local government agencies, but until now had let private companies make their own rules for staff.

Meanwhile, California’s coronavirus death toll reached another milestone of 70,000 on Monday as it emerges from the latest infection surge with the lowest rate of new cases among all states.

Last year, at this time, cases in the state started increasing. By January, California was in the throes of the worst spike of the pandemic and was the nation’s epicentre for the virus. Daily deaths approached 700.

The latest surge started in summer and was driven by the delta variant that primarily targeted the unvaccinated. At its worst during this spike, California’s average daily death count was in the low 100s.

Data collected by Johns Hopkins University showed the state with 70,132 deaths by midday on Monday. It is the highest toll of any state, exceeding Texas by some 3,000 and Florida by 13,000.

Updated: October 12, 2021, 2:38 PM