COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said President Joe Biden made a mistake by announcing federal vaccine mandates.
In a post on his Twitter account, DeWine said the focus should be on the science of preventing virus spread.
"The vaccine is our best tool to stop COVID - but people and business owners should make their own decisions about vaccination," DeWine said.
On Thursday, Biden announced the new requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans.
“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us," Biden said.
The government's expansive new rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly.
Biden also signed an executive order requiring vaccination for all employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government.
No testing opt-out is expected to be included for the executive branch requirement.
The requirement for large companies to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing for employees will be enacted through a forthcoming rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that carries penalties of $14,000 per violation, an administration official said.
The rule will require that large companies provide paid time off for vaccination.
DeWine took an early and aggressive stance against the coronavirus, becoming the first governor to close schools in the spring of 2020 and later issuing a statewide mask mandate.
But he's stepped back from talk of mandates since, hinting his hands were tied by fellow Republican lawmakers when they passed a bill limiting an Ohio governor's ability to issue public health orders.
However, DeWine also opposes a GOP bill currently pending in the Legislature that would prohibit employers from requiring vaccines of any kind. He similarly called that bill “a mistake,” saying specifically that, in the case of hospitals, it would strip their authority to decide how to keep patients safe.
As of Friday, about 6.2 million Ohioans have have received at least one dose of the vaccine, or 53% of the population, according to the state Health Department. About 5.7 million people, or 49% of the population, have completed the process.
Only 20 states rank worse for the percentage of vaccinated residents, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Republican leaders — and some union chiefs, too — said Biden was going too far in trying to muscle private companies and workers, a certain sign of legal challenges to come.
When asked about potential legal challenges to the new vaccine requirements on Friday, Biden responded, “Have at it.”