JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy said President Joe Biden’s push to require millions of U.S. workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is “ill conceived, divisive and un-American.”
“At a time in which we are called to work together, forced medical procedures run counter to our collective sense of fairness and liberty,” the Republican Dunleavy said Friday. “My administration is aggressively identifying every tool at our disposal to protect the inherent individual rights of all Alaskans.”
Biden on Thursday outlined plans to mandate that employers with more than 100 workers require their employees to be vaccinated or test for COVID-19 weekly. When asked Friday about critics who might sue over the plan, Biden said, “Have at it.”
Dunleavy has faced some criticism for not issuing a statewide mask mandate and for not implementing a new disaster declaration to deal with a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
He has instead asked lawmakers to act on legislation intended to address staffing concerns raised by health care facilities. In a letter to legislative leaders earlier this month, he said the virus is now “endemic” and that his administration is “adapting and proposing changes that make the response to the challenge more durable, and not subject to the whims of 30-day proclamations or health orders.”
In his statement Friday, Dunleavy said it is “clear from the data and empirical evidence over the last year that the vaccine is the most effective way to fight COVID-19. From what we are seeing in our hospitals, the very ill are mostly those who are unvaccinated.”
He said he would “continue to recommend that Alaskans speak to their healthcare providers and discuss the merits of the vaccine based on their individual healthcare needs.”
Dunleavy’s office in February disclosed he had contracted COVID-19. He office said he decided to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in June.
Most of Alaska is considered at high alert status for COVID-19, which is based on reported cases over the past seven days.