Former Obama Cabinet member praises Austria's decision to lock down unvaccinated

California moms, kids plan sit-out against vaccine mandates

California parents Laura Sextro and Parisa Fishback sent a message to Gov. Gavin Newsom with a statewide sit-out to protest the vaccine mandate for their children.

Arne Duncan, the former Obama administration official, took to Twitter Monday to praise Austria’s controversial decision to lock down unvaccinated citizens due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases, raising questions on whether a similar policy could be embraced by other countries.

The former head of the Education Department retweeted a report on Vienna’s nationwide lockdown for those who are unvaccinated who have not recently had the virus. The Associated Press called the move “the most drastic of a string of measures” by European countries to counter the fourth wave.

Arne Duncan, now a managing partner at Emerson Collective, was among the advocates speaking at The Kennedy Forum National Summit On Mental Health Equity And Justice In Chicago on January 16, 2018 in Chicago.  (Photo by Jeff Schear/Getty Images for Kennedy Forum)

Officials in the country say police patrols and checks will be stepped up and unvaccinated people can be fined up to $1,660 if they violate the lockdown. The lockdown impacts about 2 million Austrians. Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said his aim is to increase the number of those who take the jab.

Duncan, who is not part of the Biden administration, seemed to approve, posting, “If you (sic) a danger to yourself and others, you must remain at home. If you aren’t, you are free to roam around the country. Austria is onto something…”

The tweet from a former Obama Cabinet member was bound to face swift criticism and raised new questions about the liberties that unvaccinated Americans will have as the virus continues to circulate into the winter months.

One commenter posted, “Looks like Arne Duncan’s ideal is for unvaccinated kids & teens to be locked up at home again—despite the cost to mental health, relationships, and learning.”

Biden’s detractors have already challenged the White House on COVID-19 measures saying they claim run counter to their basic freedoms.

Steve Marshall, Alabama’s attorney general, who filed a lawsuit against part of Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for businesses told Fox News earlier this month that there is a “slippery slope” when it comes to government overreach. He pointed out that the White House’s position on vaccines just months before the Sept. 9 announcement was that it is “not the role of the federal government to issue these mandates.” 

A federal appeals court last week reaffirmed its decision to enact a stay on Biden’s workplace vaccination mandate following legal challenges. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to “take no steps to implement or enforce the Mandate until further court order.”

Biden’s supporters insist that the president is focused on protecting the health of Americans and the fastest way that the country will reemerge from the COVID-19 epidemic is by wearing masks and getting as many Americans vaccinated against the virus as possible.

About 194 million Americans are fully vaccinated, which is about 58.8% of the population.

The White House and Duncan did not immediately respond to after-hour emails from Fox News.

A recent Washington Post-ABC poll found that 47% of Americans now approve of his handling of the outbreak. The paper reported that in June, 62% approved.

Duncan later tweeted, “I look forward to the day when we Americans value the health, safety and well-being of our neighbors at least as much as we value our personal freedom.”

Fox Business’ Thomas Barrabi and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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