New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to school over the necessity for vaccine mandates and the fact that they’re effective on CNN this Sunday. During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper allowed the two spar over New York’s recent mandate for private sector employees to be vaccinated, while states like Arkansas are going the opposite direction and suing the Biden administration over their requirement for businesses with more than 100 employees to either vaccinate or test their workers.
Tapper asked Hutchinson whether New York City’s 71 percent vaccination rate compared to Arkansas’ 50 percent was proof that mandates work, and here’s Hutchinson’s pitiful response:
HUTCHINSON: Well, I don’t believe it does.
First of all, put it in historical perspective that never in the history of our country has government mandated the private sector to require vaccinations. It’s generally been left up to the states and localities. But it has been looked at as an education effort in our school systems.
To put this into the businesses does a number of things. One, it hardens resistance. That’s what we see in Arkansas, but I think across the country. Secondly, the courts have struck it down. By and large, the president’s mandate — these mandates are unconstitutional overreaches, and the courts are looking at in that fashion.
It’s a little bit closer case when it comes to a city, because that’s the government closest to the people. But if you’re looking at a million employees, and you get a 90 percent vaccination rate, you still have 10 percent, which is 100,000 workers.
And whenever the businesses are struggling with workers, our service providers, they’re providing for their family, you don’t need to add 100,000 to the unemployed list. And that would hurt us in trying to do our recovery, provide the services we need, already struggling.
Even in the health care industry, if you put that mandate in, you’re going to lose some health care workers as well. So that’s the reasons — part of the reasons that we oppose those mandates.
De Blasio responded by rightfully pointing out that getting people vaccinated is what’s going to help keep businesses open.
DE BLASIO: To the question here, Governor, look, right now, here’s what I fear.
Omicron is here. It’s all over the country. This variant moves fast. We have to move faster. And I will tell you what I hear from our business community, that their greatest fear is shutdowns. Their greatest fear is going back to where we were in 2020, to restrictions, to people losing their livelihood.
You mentioned unemployment. The greatest threat to employment right now is that the Omicron variant and the cold winter months are going to supercharge COVID and take us backwards.
So, I’m going to argue to you that mandates work, and it’s time. Since I have put mandates in place in New York City starting in August, we have seen over a million more doses, 71 percent of our people fully vaccinated. A lot of those people made the decision because the mandate was there.
And it was the thing that moved them. And it’s keeping people alive. So, I do agree with you we have to take all the factors into account, but we have proven that mandates work. And now we’re up against a new enemy with this new variant. We have got to have a strategy to fight back.
After Hutchinson responded by opining that vaccine mandates are just too politically divisive and going to place a hardship on businesses, de Blasio again countered him by pointing out that, divisive or not, they work, and it’s keeping a whole lot of people alive:
DE BLASIO: Governor, look, I respect the point about division in the country. It’s something we’re all grappling with.
And I want to thank you. I know you showed courage and saying that private sector employers in Arkansas should have the right, if they choose, to put a mandate in place. I appreciate you took that stand.
But I will tell you something. You have several times said, understandably, we don’t have a precedent here. Yes, I agree we don’t have a precedent, because this is absolutely an unprecedented crisis. And we’re about to go into year three of it.
And, Governor, this is my fear. We thought several times we’re going to leave the COVID era behind. We could leave it behind in 2022 if we truly focus on vaccination and put the tough mandates in place to make sure we turn the corner. If we don’t, here’s what I fear. We go back to lockdowns, restrictions, we lose another year.
And I can tell you, for a lot of businesses, small business owners I have talked to, mom-and-pop stores, they can’t afford to lose another year. So that’s the economic side.
On the human side — and I’m representing a city that has lost tens of thousands of our fellow residents, people I — when you talk to someone that lost a grandparent, a father, a mother, it brings home we have got to stop this thing now.
And I will tell you, and I will challenge you respectfully on this point, look at what mandates have allowed us to achieve. Our schools are safe. Our restaurants are thriving, Broadway is back, because people go in there and they know they’re safe, everyone’s vaccinated.
And it’s actually kept them thriving, while keeping the COVID levels low here. Why wouldn’t we want that for everyone?
They don’t want it for everyone because Republicans have decided to turn the pandemic, public health measures, mask wearing and vaccinations into a political football, and they couldn’t care less how many of their constituents it kills as long as they believe it will help them stay in power.
After more griping about the terrible hardships that mandates are supposedly going to place on businesses, de Blasio discussed the fact that even though there was a lot of griping initially, people did go along with the mandates and businesses were later grateful that they did.
Republicans are determined to help prolong the pandemic as long as they believe it harms Biden, and they hate these mandates for exactly the reason de Blasio explained here. They hate them because they work.