LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas’ Secretary of State announced Monday that he will not require employees of his office to be vaccinated or provide negative COVID-19 tests.
“I am a strong believer in personal freedoms and that each individual has the right to their own health decisions,” Secretary John Thurston said in a press release.
His announcement comes just days after President Joe Biden announced a plan to mandate any employer with over 100 workers to require either proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a weekly negative test — a plan which Thurston calls a “massive federal overreach.”
In addition, Thurston announced that those who visit the State Capitol in Little Rock will also not be required to be vaccinated.
Governor Asa Hutchinson expressed a similar sentiment over the weekend when speaking to NBC’s Meet the Press, saying he worries that the mandate will increase resistance to vaccines in Arkansas.
The White House, on the other hand, hopes the mandate will combat what the President has called a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
“We have the tools to combat the virus,” President Biden said during his announcement speech last week. “It’s about coming together as a country to use those tools.”
The Secretary of State’s office is one of several agencies in Arkansas that have announced they will not require vaccination for employees.
Several counties have announced in the past week that they will not require employees to meet the expectations outlined in the federal mandate.
The news comes as more and more Republican leaders express their intent to challenge the mandate in court.