Despite an occasionally faulty Zoom connection, CNN "New Day" host Brianna Keilar on Tuesday morning was able to confront the head of a powerful Texas lobbying organization over his position that everyone should get vaccinated for COVID-19 while at the same time opposing President Joe Biden's plan to enforce vaccination mandates on large companies.
Speaking with Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business, Keilar pressed the lobbyist to explain the disconnect between his fervent advocacy of getting vaccinated while at the same time calling Biden's plan "half-baked."
"The booster shots are a good idea after six or seven months. So there's a lot of other things we can do to increase protection for Americans," Hamer explained. "Boosters, I think the president was right on talking about the importance of therapeutics, of surging health care. But bring people together, bring them to the White House. Bring them virtually together; bring business, labor. We will do a much better job of increasing vaccinations if we work together as opposed to mandates that come out of nowhere."
"You're talking about convincing people," the CNN host parried. "I mean, you've seen it's not working, Glenn. You've seen that."
"I just want to highlight one of your arguments," she continued. "You say the vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the transmission of Covid-19, right? It's also the way to get the Texas economy back on its feet. My question is how do you -- okay, let me ask my question, Glenn -- if you're looking for economic optimization, you don't want to do it at the expense of people's health? That's actually going to hurt the economy."
"Sure, you have to balance lives and livelihoods," he attempted. "But take a look at what's happening. I think there is a vaccine mandate at a hospital in New York. this is reported by NPR, not a conservative media outlet by any stretch. And now what's happening, they're having difficulty delivering babies because people are quitting. So when you think about President Biden's proposed vaccine mandate, it covers employers with a 100 or more. You still have 60 million or so jobs open for employers that are less than 100. So what happens when those people leave those positions in the larger companies and go to the smaller companies, or they just say, we're going to stay out of the labor force?"
"Glen, is your counterproposal, then, you should be having unvaccinated people delivering babies?" Keilar demanded. "Because that's what's going to happen without a mandate. There will be unvaccinated nurses delivering babies. and that hospital as it pauses deliveries of babies, is looking to hire nurses who will get vaccinated so that they can provide their services, but also provide a safe place for people to get their health care."
"I mean, look, the business community wants people to get vaccinated for, not just economic reasons, " Hamer replied. "We care about the people that work at our company. And again, vaccines are the single most effective way to beat Covid-19. But my point is that mandate without persuasion could have unintended consequences and what's going on in that hospital in New York is sad. "
"What would you propose, then? You'd have unvaccinated people delivering babies. Are you cool with that?" the CNN host persisted.
"No, I would want all health care personnel to be vaccinated. My point --," he began only to be cut off by the CNN host.
"Why not have that in a business so that people are not jeopardizing their health in order to do work and be part of a thriving economy?" Keilar continued.
"Well, if you're, if you're vaccinated -- like, I will just tell you personally, sure, I'd rather be next to someone who is vaccinated. But I feel -- I believe in American ingenuity," Hamer replied. "I have no problem -- I am not concerned about being around someone who's not vaccinated. I would hope they would get vaccinated for their own protection and, you know, I want them to be healthy."
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