Whitmer says Biden vaccine mandate 'a problem for all of us'

Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerWhitmer leading possible GOP challengers in Michigan governor race: poll Whitmer isolating after husband's positive COVID-19 test Seven most vulnerable governors facing reelection in 2022 MORE (D) reportedly told business leaders that President Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate was “a problem for all of us” when asked about the possibility of worker shortages increasing because of the requirement.

Whitmer made the comment on Monday during a meeting with business leaders in ​​Montcalm County, where she said she understood their concerns about the mandate, local outlet the Daily News reported.

One Michigan business owner raised the potential problem of labor shortages as a result of the vaccine requirement, which will exacerbate staffing issues businesses are already facing. Whitmer sympathized with that concern.

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“We’re an employer too, the state of Michigan is. I know if that mandate happens, we’re going to lose state employees. That’s why I haven’t proposed a mandate at the state level. Some states have. We have not. We’re waiting to see what happens in court,” Whitmer said in response to concerns about job losses from the mandate. 

“But we have a lot of the same concerns that you just voiced, and it’s going to be a problem for all of us,” Whitmer added.

Under Biden's vaccine mandate, any business with more than 100 employees must begin requiring that workers either get a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo regular testing for the virus by Jan. 4.

The mandate has been halted in federal court after multiple lawsuits were filed following its announcement.

Whitmer has been quiet on the mandate since the president announced it and has avoided implementing a vaccine mandate at the state level, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Early in the pandemic, the governor took aggressive action to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan, implementing and extending a months-long stay-at-home order that she referred to as "one of the nation's more conservative."

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She has also been a vocal proponent of vaccination and in recent months has encouraged adults in her state to get booster shots and has signed an executive order aimed at expediting the inoculation of Michigan's children.

"Our top priority remains slowing the spread of COVID-19 so that businesses can keep their doors open, schools can keep students in classrooms, and the state can continue our strong economic progress," the press secretary for Whitmer's office said in a statement to The Hill.

"While the federal government's vaccine rule is currently halted, Governor Whitmer continues to urge Michiganders to receive one of the safe and effective vaccines because this is the best way for Michiganders to protect themselves and keep our economy growing," the statement continued.

Updated at 6:19 p.m.