GOP Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Sunday doubled down on his opposition to vaccine mandates, even as he conceded schools may have to institute them for the coronavirus in the future.
In an interview on on Fox News Sunday, Hutchinson said he’s optimistic about getting through the surge of infection from the omicron variant.
“I believe that we are going to continue to increase vaccination rates, but if you look at the future, obviously if our hospitals are overrun, if the scientific evidence continues to show the efficacy and the safety of the vaccines, and if there’s greater public acceptance, then you can look at requiring [a COVID vaccine] in the schools if need be.”
He said, however, “there always has to be the right exceptions for religious convictions.”
According to Hutchinson, there is still “a lack of trust in the development” of the vaccines.
“I think now we’ve got greater confidence, but whenever you had emergency use authorization, that caused some concern,” he said.
“Vaccinations have historically always been local and state-driven, and so that is the point,” he said. “At some point down the road, states can make decisions, local governments can make decisions, but it’s never been at the federal government level, and that also has increased the distrust, the reservation, it’s hardened the resistance.”
Hutchinson praised the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for shortening isolation and quarantine, but said it needs to be simplified for the public.
“I do think there is some confusion out there because you’ve got one set of rules for healthcare workers. You’ve got another one for those in the school systems and now you’ve got one for the general public,” he said. “I would like to see some harmonization of those because there’s just a lot of information out there, we need to simplify it more for the public.”
Hutchinson said it’s the federal government’s power to get more COVID testing produced, but it should be left to the states to distribute the tests.
“I would encourage the Biden administration to utilize the states in distributing those 500 million tests,” he said. “We can do it more efficiently, we have to have flexibility to do it, and if you don’t do it that way, then you’re going to be in competition because that’s not an efficient way to distribute it by a website, by personal calls.”
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