Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves on Sunday said President Biden is forcing workers to choose between a “jab in their arm and their ability to feed their families” to distract from mounting political problems at home and abroad.
Mr. Reeves’ state has the worst death rate from COVID-19 in the nation, but he said Mr. Biden is overstepping by mandating the vaccine for millions of health workers and instructing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to fine large companies that don’t mandate the shots or weekly virus testing.
“He knows he doesn’t have the authority to do this in my opinion, but he wants to change the political narrative away from Afghanistan and away from other issues that are driving his poll numbers in the ground,” Mr. Reeves, a Republican, told CNN’s “State of the Union.
He said his state is prepared to sue after it sees the actual rule from OSHA and that people on “the left” should be fearful of a president flexing his powers on the private sector.
“What powers do we not grant this president? What does he not have the ability to do?” Mr. Reeves said.
Mississippi recently eclipsed New Jersey as having the highest number of fatalities from COVID-19 as a proportion of the population.
Pressed on whether Mr. Reeves’ strategy was failing, the governor pointed to a “quick decline” in transmission in recent months and characterized the pandemic as having a cyclical pattern that swiped the Sun Belt last year, too, and will move to other parts of the country in the coming weeks.
“You’re going to see fatalities rise in other states,” Mr. Reeves said.
The governor said the best thing Americans can do is talk to their doctors about getting vaccinated and, if they get infected, talk to their doctors about getting monoclonal antibody treatments that can keep them out of the hospital.
The governor’s state has some of the most stringent requirements in the country on childhood vaccinations that are required for school.
Mr. Reeves said vaccines designed to protect children were distinct from a situation in which grown-ups must choose between their livelihoods and an injection.
“It’s not vaccines mandated in the workplace,” he said.