Pete Buttigieg Singles Out GOP Anti-Vaxxers During ‘ABC Sunday’

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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spoke out during an appearance on ABC’s This Week on Sunday against GOP-aligned criticism for the newly announced vaccination guidelines for federal employees. Now, federal employees and contractors will be required to either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or abide by what CNN summarizes as “strict protocols,” including wearing face masks and staying physically distanced from others. The announcement from the Biden administration mirrors similar moves elsewhere, with, for instance, New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announcing that state employees will either have to get vaccinated or undergo repeated COVID-19 testing.

Despite the critical nature of vaccinations, Republicans — and federal employee unions pushing Republican-aligned talking points — have complained about strict measures. On ABC, Buttigieg commented as follows, directly reacting to the unions:

‘This is about protecting lives. This is about setting a good example, and to be clear, employees have a choice — either attest to their vaccination and indicate that that’s happened, or there have to be other measures to keep the workplace safe, including masking, social distancing, testing. This is a basic safety measure, at a time when we continue to see this very dangerous variant spreading around our country. Look, we have so many obligations in so many dimensions of employee safety to make sure that this is a safe workplace… It’s also important, I think, for our federal workforce to lead by example.’

Buttigieg’s comments could also relatively easily apply to complaints from prominent Republicans about mid-pandemic pushes for protective measures like vaccinations. Imposing strict new vaccine guidelines for federal workers is a “basic safety measure” — and yet, prominent Republicans have repeatedly lashed out against similar broad moves. Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott even recently banned local Texas officials from imposing mandates to wear face masks. Watch Buttigieg below:

With a large federal workforce, strict new guidelines around vaccinations for members of that workforce could have a significant impact on the spread of the virus in the U.S. Recently, the so-called delta variant of COVID-19 has driven a rise in cases and hospitalizations across the U.S. alongside a proportionally smaller but still present rise in deaths. The New York Times reported early on Sunday that Florida alone had a daily average of over 8,200 hospitalizations with COVID-19, higher than any other state and marking a 120 percent increase over 14 days.