Parson weighs special session to respond to Biden COVID plan
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is considering calling a special legislative session to challenge President Joe Biden’s plan to require COVID-19 vaccination or testing for many workers.
Parson told the Kansas City Star in an interview Friday that Missouri will oppose the White House initiative on “multiple fronts.” He didn’t elaborate but left open the possibility of a special session.
“I don’t plan on letting that happen in Missouri,” Parson said of the mandate-or-testing proposals. “I think the president is totally wrong on the policy he’s setting forth.”
Biden announced sweeping new orders Thursday that will require employers with more than 100 workers to mandate immunizations or offer weekly testing. The new rules could affect as many as 100 million Americans, although it’s not clear how many of those people are currently unvaccinated.
The U.S. is still struggling to curb the surging delta variant of the coronavirus, which is killing thousands each week and jeopardizing the nation’s economic recovery.
Rep. Tony Lovasco, an O’Fallon Republican, wrote to Parson asking that legislators be allowed to address the Biden plan. He said the president’s plan demands an “immediate response.”
The House Judiciary Committee is planning to meet Wednesday to hear from Missourians about the vaccination plan. Lawmakers will already be at the Capitol for a short session to consider whether to override Parson’s vetoes on bills.
Republican House leaders in a joint statement called Biden’s move “an abusive overreach by Washington D.C. bureaucrats who are out of touch with what is best for Missouri businesses and families.”
Asked Friday whether Missouri’s response to Biden would involve a lawsuit by Republican Attorney General Eric Schmitt or a special session, Parson responded: “I think multiple fronts we’re going to fight that on.”
The delta variant hit hard in Missouri in June and isn’t letting up. The state on Friday reported 2,544 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, 20 new deaths and an increase of 74 patients in hospitals to 2,033. Missouri has reported 647,335 cases since the onset of the pandemic, and 10,861 deaths.
Two counties on the outskirts of the St. Louis area are the latest hot spots for COVID-19, according to Missouri health officials.
The state on Thursday issued a “hot spot advisory” for Warren and Lincoln counties — the first such advisory issued in the St. Louis metropolitan area since the state began issuing the advisories earlier this summer.
The advisory said cases in Warren County rose from 94 in June to 231 in July and 494 in August. In the last week, Warren County had 149 new cases, up from 135 a week earlier.
In Lincoln County, cases rose from 186 last week to 247 this week.
Both counties have extremely low vaccination rates — 30.3% in Lincoln County and 34.6% in Warren County. That compares to a national vaccination rate of 53.4% and a statewide rate of 45.9%.