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UPDATE 1-Biden says Republican governors are undermining COVID safety response

·2-min read

(Adds Biden quote, background, Arizona law suit) 

  By Nandita Bose 

  Sept 16 (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday directed his ire at the governors of Florida and Texas, accusing the Republican leaders of "doing everything they can to undermine the life-saving requirements" he proposed to counter the spread of COVID-19. 

  Some Republican governors, including Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida, have vowed to fight the vaccine mandate for big companies that Biden rolled out last week https://www.reuters.com/world/us/biden-deliver-six-step-plan-covid-19-pandemic-2021-09-09 in the face of surging U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, mostly among the unvaccinated. 

  Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves earlier this week likened Biden's mandate to tyranny. 

  "I propose a requirement for COVID vaccines, and the governor of that state calls it a 'tyrannical-type move?'" said Biden, noting that the pandemic has killed over 660,000 people in the United States. 

  "This is the worst type of politics...and I refuse to give in to it," Biden said, adding that the policies rolled out by the White House are "what the science tells us to do." 

  Some Republican-led states and a sizable minority of Americans have defied vaccine recommendations from health officials, arguing that mandates infringe on their personal freedoms. 

  With just 63% of the eligible U.S. population having received at least one vaccine dose, the U.S. vaccination rate now lags most developed economies. 

  Biden's vaccine policy is expected to face a string of legal challenges from Republicans, including Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who became the first to file a lawsuit against it on Tuesday. 

  DeSantis has threatened fines for cities and counties that require employees get vaccinated against COVID-19, saying they violate Florida state law. 

  (Reporting by Nandita Bose; Writing by Tyler Clifford; Editing by Heather Timmons and Bill Berkrot) 

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