The decade's most triggering comedy
Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts slammed President Joe Biden on Sunday for the administration’s vaccine mandate, saying that Biden does not know what is going on in the states because he does not attend his own administration’s weekly governors meeting.
When asked by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace whether he was being “cavalier with the health” of the people of Nebraska, Ricketts responded, “What we’re doing is focusing on preserving our hospital capacity, which we have successfully done here in Nebraska.”
“We’ve got the third, we’re tied for the third lowest mortality rate of any state in the country for people who have contracted COVID-19, and so we protected that hospital capacity to provide that care,” he said. “And again, we can look at the data specifically around children and see the risks. Last year in Nebraska, if you were aged 10-19, you were 26 times more likely to die in a car accident than you were of COVID-19.”
Ricketts continued, “So, the president should look at the data and maybe the president should attend one of the weekly calls his administration has with all the governors — he’s not been on one yet since he’s been president — and maybe talk to some of the governors and ask them about what’s going on in their states, because he appears to be pretty ignorant of what’s going on in places like Nebraska.”
TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED VIA FOX NEWS:
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: And joining us now, the governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts. Governor, welcome to “FOX News Sunday.”
GOV. PETE RICKETTS (R), NEBRASKA: Good morning. Thanks for having me on.
WALLACE: I want to start with something that you said this week about President Biden’s new vaccine mandates. Here you are, sir.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICKETTS: The president has forgotten we live in America. He thinks we live in the Soviet Union, and the hypocrisy of this is just unbelievable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Governor, what’s so objectionable about Biden’s vaccine mandates, and what are you going do about it?
RICKETTS: Well, first of all, we have been encouraging people to get vaccinated. We’ve been providing information and encouraging people to reach out to their neighbors because vaccines work and they will help people.
But it should be a personal health care choice. This is not something that the government should mandate, and somebody shouldn’t have to make the choice between keeping their job and getting a jab in the arm. I mean, it’s just wrong. I’ve talked to people, a number of people who have told me if they made me take the vaccine, I’m just going to be fired. I’m not going to, I’m not going to do it.
WALLACE: But you say it’s a personal choice. In fact, to attend school in your state of Nebraska, children must be vaccinated against a number of diseases.
Let me put them up on the screen. They must be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella, hepatitis B, and chicken pox.
Why are those mandates that parents and your state must comply with and do comply with routinely — why is it that they are not so objectionable and such a violation of personal freedom, but Biden’s vaccine mandates are?
RICKETTS: Well, for all those that you just listed, there’s a long history that parents have had the opportunity to see how those things have been implemented. And there’s still a lot of people out there who don’t know what to trust, and in fact, this is really an outcome of what the CDC has done because they flip-flopped on so many issues, whether it’s masks, or whether you have to mask [after being] vaccinated and so forth. There’s just a lot of people out there who don’t know who to trust right now.
And so, by having the government force it on — you’re not building the trust where we have the trust with those other vaccines. This is a process that’s going to take time to bring people along, and that’s why it should be a personal choice and not something mandated by the government.
WALLACE: But forgive me, sir. I’m old enough that I remember when the polio vaccine first came out, a lot of us, and certainly our parents viewed it as a blessing. And immediately — I lived in New York state at that time — the state mandated that we all get the polio vaccine.
So, you know, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. There is a new vaccine that Donald Trump was largely responsible for. It’s been approved, full approval by the FDA.
Again, if polio vaccine is okay for parents and they have to comply with it to send their kid to school, why not for a lot of people, not just kids, the vaccine for — for this disease?
RICKETTS: Yeah. I think this is very different from polio that has very devastating effects, and certainly we know if you’re older, 65 years and older, that’s were 83 percent of our deaths in Nebraska came from, we know this is really devastating. But we also know that nearly 87 percent of our 65-years and older population has been vaccinated, and if you’re looking at young children, for example, here in Nebraska, we can look at the data and see that really children are no more at risk for the coronavirus than they are for the ordinary flu.
And so, it’s all about balancing off these risks. And the risk for this is just such where this is something that we shouldn’t be mandating it. Again, the whole goal for all we are doing, at least in Nebraska how we’re doing it, is around making sure we’re preserving hospital capacity and we’ve successfully done that here, even without doing statewide mask mandates and without doing vaccine passports.
So, let’s keep the objective in mind, which is to be able to provide health care, which we have successfully done here in Nebraska by protecting our hospital capacity, and not have the heavy hand of government come in and tell people what to do. They just don’t want to hear it.
WALLACE: President Biden was asked on Friday about leaders, governors like you who say they’re going to challenge him on the vaccine mandates. Here’s what his response was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNTIED STATES: Have at it. Look, I am so disappointed that, particularly some Republican governors, have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Governor, are you being cavalier with the health of your communities?
RICKETTS: What we’re doing is focusing on preserving our hospital capacity, which we have successfully done here in Nebraska. We’ve got the third — we’re tied for the third lowest mortality rate of any state in the country for people who have contracted COVID-19, and so we protected that hospital capacity to provide that care.
And again, we can look at the data specifically around children and see the risks. Last year in Nebraska, if you were aged 10-19, you were 26 times more likely to die in a car accident than you were of COVID-19.
So, the president should look at the data, and maybe the president should attend one of the weekly calls his administration has with all the governors — he’s not been on one yet since he’s been president — and maybe talk to some of the governors and ask them about what’s going on in their states, because he appears to be pretty ignorant of what’s going on in places like Nebraska.
WALLACE: Let’s talk about the COVID situation in your state, and again, it’s not just about kids, it’s about the entire population. Let me put the stats up on the screen. Back in June, Nebraska was averaging 23 new cases a day. Now with the Delta surge, you’re averaging 759 new cases a day.
Governor, that’s the highest since last winter.
RICKETTS: Yeah, and again, what we focus on is preserving our hospital capacity, and we have seen a steady increase in hospitalizations throughout the course of this summer. Here in the month of September, the number of hospitalizations has bounced around between 379 and then on Friday, it dropped down to 350. So it’s been in that range through most of September.
And that is in contrast to the 987 we had at our peak in November of 2020.
So you can see we’re well below where we reached our peak last year. We did declare a staffing emergency for hospitals to be able to help them manage their folks, you know, to make it easier to bring in nurses and so forth.
But what we focus on is providing that hospital capacity. We set up a transfer center to be able to move people around between hospitals statewide, and all that to make sure we’re protecting the hospital capacity.
And that’s our guiding star here in Nebraska. And we’ve done it very successfully, as I indicated with our success in keeping people, you know, from dying from this disease.
WALLACE: I want — I want to talk to about that, because I looked into the situation, the stress on hospital staffing and hospital beds, and the fact is, on September 1st, you announced your state was opening a hospital transfer center that would allow patients to be moved around in case there wasn’t enough staff or beds in one place.
You also have directed health measures to limit elective surgeries. And one of your top health officials says, the fact is, there isn’t enough room in your hospitals by the end of each day for high-level care.
RICKETTS: Actually, what we’ve done is move the people around if we needed to, that’s what the transfer center is for, to make it easier for hospitals who want to move a patient to get more acute care, to be able to officially move that person into a hospital.
This primarily happens when you’ve got, say, a more rural hospital setting, that may not have all the facilities that maybe some of our urban centers do, and allow them to officially get that to the right hospital.
And certainly, we are encouraging people to continue to get vaccinated as part of this, but we’re managing our hospital capacity very successfully here in this state with the tools that we have provided the staffing emergency.
WALLACE: So, I asked you a question at the top, I asked you why it was so objectionable, you answered that. You didn’t answer the other question. Let’s finish with that. What are you going to do about President Biden’s vaccine mandates?
RICKETTS: Yeah. So I’ve been talking to my attorney general. He’s coordinating with the other attorneys general across the country who share similar views about the overreach. This is an egregious overreach of federal authority.
And as we see what these rules are, we will be able to know exactly how we will be able to challenge them in court. I’m also talking with my colleagues around the country as well, the other governors who feel the way I do, and we’ll be working on other strategies.
But I’ve got to tell you, I have heard from so many workers, so many small businesses who say this is just not going to be something they can handle.
So many people have told me they’re just going to be fired if they’re forced to take the vaccine. This is really going to create huge problems for our small businesses and for our American workers.
And again, you shouldn’t have to make the choice of keeping your job or getting a job in the arm.
WALLACE: Very briefly, you say you’re going to court. Any idea how soon?
RICKETTS: Well, when we get an idea of what these rules exactly will be, we’ll know how to be able to attack it in court.
WALLACE: Governor Ricketts, thank you. Thanks for your time today. Please come back, sir.
RICKETTS: Great. Thanks very much for having me on, Chris.