US politically divided over vaccine mandates

Political rifts are deepening in the United States over COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

President Joe Biden is urging people to get vaccinated, citing the shots' efficacy. He has announced a plan to require businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers get vaccinated.

Amid such efforts, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order on Monday banning any entity in Texas, including private businesses, from imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Abbott noted that the Biden administration is "bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates," which he says threaten economic recovery.

He said people "fear losing their livelihoods because they object to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination" for religious or medical reasons.

Some Texas-based companies, including American Airlines, say they will not change their policy of requiring employees to be inoculated.

Vaccination rates have stalled in the United States. Many Democratic governors are pushing for mandatory vaccinations in their states and Republican governors are moving to oppose such requirements.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that the federal government will continue to implement the law and that President Biden has the legal authority to do so.

Psaki said the government's intention is "to implement and continue to work to implement these requirements across the country, including in the states where there are attempts to oppose them."

She said Abbott's order banning mandates fits a "familiar pattern" of "putting politics ahead of public health."