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Ducey: Arizona must push back against Biden vaccine mandate

September 10, 2021 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — President Joe Biden is overreaching with his new requirement for employees of large businesses to be vaccinated or regularly tested for COVID-19, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday.

The Republican governor said Arizona will fight back but repeatedly declined to say on how the state would respond.

“This requires pushback and response, and that’s what the state of Arizona is going to do,” Ducey told reporters after speaking at the opening of a sportsbook in downtown Phoenix. “There’s more to follow on what that’s going to be.”

Ducey has encouraged people to get vaccinated. But he has worked aggressively to block mandates of all kinds, including for vaccines and face coverings, drawing intense criticism from some public health and school officials.

He signed a law prohibiting schools from requiring masks, which doesn’t take effect until later this month, and he said schools that require masks are not eligible for one pot of federal coronavirus relief funds that he controls.

Biden on Thursday ordered sweeping new federal vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant. The rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly. Workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding also will have to be fully vaccinated, as will federal employees and contractors.

Ducey said the rule will lead people to quit their jobs, leaving businesses and schools in a lurch.

“We need more people to get vaccinated,” Ducey said. “This is not the way to get it done.”

Arizona on Thursday reported nearly 2,500 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases as virus-related hospitalizations remained over 2,000 for the 10th straight day.

The additional 2,480 confirmed cases and 62 deaths reported Thursday increased the pandemic totals to 1,039,492 cases and 19,141 deaths, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

The dashboard also reported that 2,071 virus patients occupied hospital beds as of Wednesday. The state’s virus-related hospitalizations peaked at 5,082 on Jan. 11 during the winter surge.

Citing staff shortages, hospitals have said they are stressed by the recent influx of virus cases and that it’s difficult to treat all patients needing treatment for other medical reasons.

According to Johns Hopkins University data, the state’s seven-day rolling averages of daily new cases rose over the past two weeks from 2,626 on Aug. 24 to 2,907 on Tuesday.

The average of daily deaths rose from 19.1 to 32.3 during the same period.