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Oklahoma joins anti-mandate lawsuit focused on health care workers
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Oklahoma joins anti-mandate lawsuit focused on health care workers

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Oklahoma is among 12 states launching a new fight against the federal government’s requirement that health care workers be vaccinated to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

In a news release, Attorney General John O’Connor said a federal court will be asked to stop the Biden administration’s “overreaching ‘job or jab’ COVID-19 vaccine mandate” for workers in health care.

The release from O’Connor’s office notes that worker shortages are already a problem for nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the state.

“The mandate threatens to further burden the health care sector and patient well-being in Oklahoma,” O’Connor says in the lawsuit and request for a preliminary injunction filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.

Attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia are also plaintiffs.

“I will not tolerate the Biden administration threatening Oklahoma health care workers with their jobs after they have fearlessly braved the pandemic,” O’Connor said in a statement noting that rural facilities are especially affected by staff shortages.

O’Connor also has sued in other courts in efforts to stop federal vaccination mandates. He filed suit in an Oklahoma City federal court in an effort to halt the requirement that all federal contractors be vaccinated against COVID-19.

He also joined attorneys general in six other states in asking the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to stay a U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule requiring that employees in workplaces of 100 or more be vaccinated.

In Tulsa County District Court, O’Connor filed suit against Ascension St. John over its COVID-19 vaccination requirement.

Featured video: How do Oklahomans feel about federal vaccine mandates?

Senior citizens are a group who feels strongly, which may affect voting behavior, a polling expert says.

Your opinions on COVID-19: A collection of letters to the editor


From the letters: People should think of long-term effects of COVID-19. Mayor Bynum should reconsider mask mandate stance. What number of COVID-19 deaths is acceptable to Gov. Stitt? Here’s a look at some recent letters to the editor on the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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"I’m not saying we will see late developing problems from COVID, but I’m wondering why anybody would take that chance when there is a vaccine available to stop or at least lessen the infection," says Bartlesville resident Clova Abrahamson.

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"Having first-hand experience in this matter, as well as many others of my vintage, I can tell you that if getting a shot and wearing a mask could keep you from getting killed in battle as well as satisfy your obligation to your country, it just seems like a no-brainer," says Miami, Okla., resident Stephen Abraham.

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"Help Oklahomans weather this pandemic more successfully and stop fighting aggressive vaccination," says Jenks resident Jim Wolf.

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"Hiding behind all these excuses are not changing COVID-19’s hold on our world," writes Broken Arrow resident Joyce Jones-Hallman.

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"You are merely being asked for a minor inconvenience to help slow a serious virus that is killing many of our citizens,"writes Tulsa resident Leonard Brehm.

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"With so many people unwilling to be vaccinated, the need for a mask mandate is clear," writes Tulsa resident William G. Hollingsworth.

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"Oh, how we would love for all to help us live a normal life again," writes Broken Arrow resident Donna Iseminger.

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"To my knowledge, Gov. Stitt has always encouraged anyone who wants to wear a mask or feels safer wearing a mask can by all means wear a mask, anywhere, anytime," says Bixby resident Sam Woodard.

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"Many Oklahoma employers, including Tulsa Public Schools, have adopted standards to protect their employees, students and customers despite Gov. Stitt," writes Tulsa resident Robert Leland.

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"The refusal by so many to receive the proven-to-work vaccine is no laughing matter," writes Tulsa resident Phil Graham.

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"We have attended school and traveled to many countries, all requiring government vaccine mandates of one kind or another," says Cleveland, Okla., resident Cecil Sterne.

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"Grow up, America. Here’s a legal chance to shoot up," Tulsa resident Ken Widdowson says about the COVID-19 vaccine.

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"Why not extend that mandate to those receiving government benefits?" asks Tulsa resident Edmund Seiders.

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"Why can't the Tulsa Social Security Office figure out how to reopen safely?" asks Bixy resident Lynn Robertson.

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"Too many good, decent Oklahomans are unnecessarily dead," writes Tulsa resident Tom Neal.

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"Life is continuing on pretty much as usual where we visited. One might think that masking and vaccinations work," writes Tulsa resident Barbara Smallwood.

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About 100 Oklahomans have been able to change their gender marker on their birth certificate since 2018, but late last year Stitt ordered the State Health Department stop issuing nonbinary birth certificates. As a result of the executive order, the Health Department also is no longer authorized to accept court orders for male and female changes, Oklahoma State Department of Health’s legal team said.

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