OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt held a news conference Tuesday to discuss the state's lawsuits against the federal government over COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Stitt announced the latest lawsuit directed at the mandate for National Guard members on Thursday. Other lawsuits attempt to fight back against mandates impacting businesses and healthcare workers.
"President Biden doesn't trust Americans to make decisions for themselves," Stitt said Tuesday.
"Luckily our constitution does."
Attorney General John O'Connor and Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Thomas Mancino were among the panel that joined Stitt to speak during the news conference.
O'Connor began his explanation by saying he'd been vaccinated, but his issue is with the legality of the mandates.
"For the same reasons that are behind every one of our lawsuits that is the president does not have the authority under the Constitution or the laws of our country to mandate these vaccines," O'Connor said.
The CEO of Webco Industries in Sand Springs was among those who spoke at the news conference opposing vaccine mandates.
Dana Weber says she’s thankful for Governor Stitt and Attorney General O’Connor for standing up to the federal government’s mandates.
Webco Industries manufactures steel tubing.
They have about 1,300 employees.
Their CEO says if they were to mandate the COVID-19 vaccines or do weekly testing, they would lose employees.
“I believe that a high percent of our employees would either quit or choose the weekly testing. I would not be surprised to see at least 20% of our employees quick,” Weber said.
She believes they have a high percentage of unvaccinated employees.
“We have educated them. We have given them opportunities. We have provided incentives," Weber said. "We have done everything we can to make sure they have all the information they need to make a good decision for their own personal well being and many of them I believe have thoughtfully made a decision not get the vaccine.”
And she says if they did mandate it… she worries any reaction someone might have to the vaccine would be their responsibility.
Meanwhile, during the Healthier Oklahoma Coalition meeting the President of the Oklahoma State of Medical Association addressed concerns that they are pro-mandate.
“That is incorrect. We are pro-public health and pro-patient,” Dr. Mary Clarke said.
Dr. Clark also responded to concerns Governor Stitt and others have expressed over inconsistent guidance.
“One year ago, Joe Biden, as president elect told Americans, that he would not mandate the covid vaccine... As we all know now that was a lie,” said Governor Kevin Stitt.
“We’re going to change our recommendations as we go forward," said Dr. Clarke. "People get very frustrated because we say one thing and two months later we’re maybe back tracking a little bit and that’s okay because we are learning this all the time.”
Ultimately, there was one common comment at the governor’s news conference.
“I am not personally opposed to the vaccine," Weber said. "I have been vaccinated and received even my booster but I also believe very strongly in each individual having the right to make their own personal decision as to what is right for them.”
During the meeting, Attorney General John O’ Connor also took a moment to list the five vaccine mandate lawsuits the state has filed explaining that he’s filed multiple ones because of the way the Biden Administration rolled out the mandates on multiple fronts.
O’connor says the courts are moving quickly on those and he believes the injunctions will be upheld.
Lastly, the panel included Stillwater Medical Center nurse Caroline Swink, who said she was there to speak on behalf of healthcare workers and healthcare systems across the nation who she says have been harassed and discriminated against for not getting the "experimental vaccine."
The Army's deadline for active-duty military members to get vaccinated is Dec. 15 while National Guard soldiers are required to be vaccinated by June 30, 2022.
Healthcare workers, federal contractors and businesses with 100 or more employees have until the Jan. 4 deadline, however pending litigation could impact that deadline.
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