Greg Abbott's Vaccine Mandate Ban Comes as Texas Leads U.S. in Daily COVID Deaths

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott issued an executive order (EO) on Monday to prevent the enforcement of vaccine mandates in the state by any entity, including private businesses.

The new order comes as Texas leads the nation in average daily deaths due to COVID-19, and amid continuing vaccine hesitancy among a section of the U.S. population.

Abbott, a Republican, had previously issued an order prohibiting mask mandates and threatening fines for local government officials who tried to impose face mask requirements.

Data compiled by The New York Times shows that the average number of daily deaths from COVID-19 in Texas stands at 241.4.

That figure represents data from the seven days up to October 11.

Texas' average is significantly higher than the state with the next highest figure, Florida, which stands at 149.7 average daily deaths.

However, Texas is not leading in deaths per 100,000 residents. That figure stood at 0.83 per 100,000 in Texas, less than several other states, including West Virginia, which led the nation in this measure with 1.65 deaths per 100,000.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 72.5 percent of the state's population over the age of 12 have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 62.73 percent of people over 12 are fully vaccinated.

In his order, Abbott wrote: "No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19."

Abbott also took aim at President Joe Biden's administration, writing: "in yet another instance of federal overreach, the Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas' continued recovery from the COVID- 19 disaster."

The Biden administration will soon introduce a mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees requiring that workers are either vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was tasked last month with outlining rules for the vaccine mandate and the agency is expected to bring the mandate forward in the coming weeks.

I issued an Executive Order prohibiting vaccine mandates by ANY entity in Texas.

I also added the issue to the Special Session agenda.

The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, & our best defense against the virus, but should always remain voluntary & never forced.

— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 11, 2021

In explaining the rationale for his move, Abbott's order noted "countless Texans fear losing their livelihoods because they object to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination for reasons of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19"

The governor also encouraged vaccinations, as he's done frequently in the past, and stressed that COVID-19 vaccines are effective. He wrote in the EO: "COVID-19 vaccines are strongly encouraged for those eligible to receive one, but must always be voluntary for Texans."

In a statement accompanying the order, Abbott added: "The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced."

Greg Abbott Appears at a Press Conference
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference where he signed Senate Bills 2 and 3 at the Capitol on June 8, 2021 in Austin, Texas. Abbott has issued an executive order prohibiting vaccine requirements by any entity in Texas. Montinique Monroe/Getty Images