Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sided with local school boards and employers who have decided to hand down vaccine requirements, in remarks in his home state of Kentucky, where he also expressed shock that people wouldn’t want to take the coronavirus vaccine.
‘What I think as a public official, is those decisions ought to be made by school boards and by employers,’ McConnell said – parting ways with Republican governors like Florida‘s Ron DeSantis who have warred with local school boards over mask mandates.
‘They can weigh the evidence, look at the effectiveness, and make those decisions. I think it’s better left to the employers and school boards,’ McConnell said, speaking at the University of Kentucky School of Pharmacy.
McConnell also expressed surprise at the emergence of vaccine hesitancy – which have led to huge gaps of vaccinations in parts of the South, and in particular in counties that heavily backed former President Donald Trump.
‘Honestly my friends it never occurred to me that we’d have a challenge getting people to take the vaccine, but that’s where we are,’ McConnell said, in remarks posted by the Recount.
Honestly my friends it never occurred to me that we’d have a challenge getting people to take the vaccine, but that’s where we,’ said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in his home state of Kentucky. He spoke at the at the Kentucky Farm Bureau Ham Breakfast at the state fair in Louisville Thursday, Aug. 26
‘Ninety percent of the people in the hospitals are unvaccinated,’ he said, lowballing figures from top health officials that put the number even higher.
‘We have a crisis of the unvaccinated,’ he said. ‘We are all I think are perplexed as to how we tackle this problem. But clearly getting more and more Americans vaccinated is the only way to end it.
HIs remarks came on a weekend where Louisiana hospitals packed with coronavirus patients even as a massive Category 4 hurricane approached.
McConnell told WUKY ‘I don’t think it serves any particular purpose to start criticizing others,” repeating that “the best thing for me to do is to say how I feel about it and to try to encourage those people who care what I think to do the right thing.”
McConnell’s statements dovetail with his statements in the Capitol, where has backed vaccines, but declined to bash fellow Republican lawmakers who have raised doubts about them.
Homestate Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has repeatedly stressed the freedom people have not to choose a vaccine, even as he urged ‘at-risk’ people like the elderly to get them, after becoming the first senator to announce he tested positive for COVID-19 last year.
A nurse gives a girl a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Lyman High School in Longwood on the day before classes begin for the 2021-22 school year
Christy Pavlish, left, and Lauren Birkins display signs as they cross the street during a protest outside a Broward County School Board meeting, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, in in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to discuss a possible mask mandate when school starts next week
‘I don’t think it serves any particular purpose to start criticizing others. I think the best thing for me to do is to say how I feel about it,’ said McConnell, drawing some dismissive comments on line from observers who have seen him torch political opponents over Obamacare, judicial nominations, campaign finance, Afghanistan, government spending, and a range of topics.
On Sunday, McConnell wouldn’t say directly whether he thinks Republican Governors Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis should reverse their bans on schools and private entities implementing mask mandates.
‘Do you think that Governor DeSantis and Governor Abbott are making a mistake banning individual institutions, school districts, from imposing mask mandates?’ Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace asked McConnell as Texas and Florida lead in COVID-19 case spikes.
‘You know, I’m kind of reluctant to give governors advice about how they ought to carry out their responsibilities during the pandemic,’ he dodged, just how he did in his other comments.
‘But I do think it’s important to remember that 90 per cent of the people in the hospitals are unvaccinated,’ McConnell continued. ‘So the answer to this is: Get vaccinated. If we could keep saying that over and over and over again, I think that’s the key to this.’