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LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday federal vaccination mandates announced by President Joe Biden last week hurt efforts to overcome the public’s resistance to taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Republican governor has been notable in working to persuade reluctant Arkansas residents to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. But in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Hutchinson said a comprehensive federal vaccination mandate “hardens the resistance.”

The expansive rules mandate all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. And the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.

Hutchinson said federal requirements are “counterproductive,” interfering with state vaccination efforts instead of supporting them.

“We talked about the fact that we’ve historically had vaccination requirements in schools,” he said. “But those have always come at the state level, never at the national level.”

“And so this is an unprecedented assumption of federal mandate authority that really disrupts and divides the country. It divides our partnership between the federal government and the states. And it increases the division in terms of vaccination when we should all be together trying to increase the vaccination uptake,” he added.

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