Republican mayor of Tennessee county vows to defy Biden’s vaccine mandate despite high 'COVID-19 rates'

Republican mayor of Tennessee county vows to defy Biden’s vaccine mandate despite high 'COVID-19 rates'
Glenn Jacobs in 2014, Wikimedia Commons

Frustrated by the fact that many Americans remain unvaccinated during the current coronavirus surge, President Joe Biden recently mandated that employees of the federal government and larger companies get vaccinated for COVID-19. Countless Republicans have accused Biden of being heavy-handed, neglecting to mention that vaccine mandates have a long history in the United States — and one of the Republicans who has vowed to obstruct Biden's efforts is Glenn Jacobs, mayor of Knox County, Tennessee.

Jacobs, in fact, has sent Biden a letter announcing his intention, according to Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Tyler Whetstone.

In his letter to the president, dated September 16, Jacobs makes it clear that Biden will get no help from him. Jacobs, according to Whetstone, has no intention of ordering a vaccine mandate for the local government — and the tone of his letter indicates that Biden will get no help from him when it comes to either larger companies or federal workers in Tennessee. Jacobs' letter indicates that he opposes vaccine mandates for the private sector as well as for either federal government workers or government workers at the state or local level.

Jacobs wrote, "As the chief executive of an organization that employs 2700 individuals, your action adds financial, legal and regulatory burdens that will ultimately impact Knox County taxpayers. In addition, it potentially hinders our ability to attract quality employees since many folks in our community will not work somewhere that unjustly imposes vaccine mandates."

But the COVID-19 surge in Tennessee is a perfect example of why Biden wants to get as many Americans vaccinated as possible. Tennessee, according to Whetstone, has "one of the highest COVID-19 rates in the country."

What Tennessee doesn't have is a high vaccination rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 75% of U.S.-based adults have been at least partially vaccinated for COVID-19. But in Tennessee, the Mayo Clinic reports, that number is only 51%, which is well below the the United States on the whole.

Jacobs notes, "Knox County reported more pandemic deaths on a single day (on September 14) than at any other point in the pandemic: 15 people lost their lives to the virus in a 24-hour period. In all, 764 Knox County residents have died of COVID-19 through September 16."

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