(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden’s Thursday announcement of broad new COVID-19 vaccination requirements has some Arizona officials cheering and others settling in for a fight.
Biden announced a vaccination requirement for employees of any business with more than 100 people, something that’s estimated to be a vaccine requirement for 100 million people. Another estimated 80 million workers who refuse would be subjected to regular testing.
"While America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago when I took office, I need to tell you a second fact, we're in a tough stretch and it could last awhile," Biden said in a speech Thursday afternoon.
Fines for a violation would reportedly be $14,000 per instance.
In addition, Biden announced he would require any federal employee under the executive branch’s umbrella to be required to be inoculated. The same goes for employees of any company that accepts federal contracts.
This marks Biden’s latest attempt at a governmental response to rising infections nationwide largely due to the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus. Even though more than 200 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, nearly 80 million of those eligible have abstained.
Gov. Doug Ducey responded to the new rule Thursday, promising to fight Biden’s “dictatorial approach” to governing.
“Joe Biden has failed us on COVID. He ran for office on a promise to ‘shut down the virus.’ He has failed on this, much as he has failed on the border crisis and in Afghanistan. So now, President Biden’s plan is to shut down freedom,” Ducey said in a statement. “These mandates are outrageous. They will never stand up in court. We must and will push back.”
Arizona’s two U.S. Senators were largely quiet on the announcement. Neither office was immediately available to respond to a request for comment, but Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, tweeted, “Arizona – if you haven’t already, today is a great day to get vaccinated.”
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego applauded the move.
"This is the critical action we need to appropriately fight this virus," she said Thursday afternoon. "It’s great to see strong leadership at a time when others have prioritized politics over science. Safety for every resident has & remains my top priority – this requirement will allow us to protect & save lives."
Like others, Attorney General Mark Brnovich questioned the legality of the order.
"President Biden is now taking federal overreach to unheard of levels by dictating vaccine mandates for all private companies with over 100 people, federal contractors, and healthcare providers receiving federal dollars," the Republican tweeted. "I am reviewing his outrageous actions and will take all legal recourse to defend our state’s sovereignty and the rights of Arizonans to make the best healthcare decisions for themselves."
U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, a conservative Republican from Gilbert, called Biden’s requirements an assault on individuals’ freedoms and livelihoods.
“We must fight this,” he said Thursday.