Photo: Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Governor Greg Abbott (pictured) bars vaccine mandates in Texas, the second-highest state in the US for Coronavirus cases and deaths.

Abbott’s executive order covers private employers as well as public organizations:

No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19. I hereby suspend all relevant statutes to the extent necessary to enforce this prohibition.

Abbott and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, both Republicans, have been among the most aggressive governors in resisting Coronavirus containment measures. The two states accounted for much of the summer surge in Coronavirus cases in the US, with daily deaths rising almost 1,100% to reach 2,075 on September 26.

See also Florida Board of Education Cuts Funding to 8 Districts Over Coronavirus Mask Mandates
Coronavirus — How Trump and DeSantis Condemned Florida to a Deadly Surge

The 7-day average has declined slightly since then, but still stands at 1,783. The US toll for the pandemic is 714,056 deaths with 44,455,951 confirmed cases.

Texas has recorded 67,044 deaths, behind only California, and 4,135,512 cases. Florida has announced 56,667 deaths and 3,645,290 cases.

Abbott’s order says, “Vaccines are strongly encouraged for those eligible to receive one”; however, he maintained that they “must always be voluntary for Texans”.

President Joe Biden has announced that most federal workers, federal contractors, and health care staff must be vaccinated or submit to regular testing. Last week he said all companies with more than 100 employees must issues the mandates. The rule is being drawn up by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

About 66% of Americans over age 12 are fully vaccinated.

Texas hospital Houston Methodist was among first large health care facilities in the US to issue a vaccine mandate in June. More than 150 staff members were fired or resigned when they refused the jab.

American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, announced on Friday that more than 100,000 employees must be vaccinated.