Sen. Ron Johnson says he’d support a vaccine mandate for an ‘incredibly deadly’ virus but not COVID-19, which has killed more than 613,000 Americans

Ron johnson covid
Sen. Ron Johnson said Friday that he would only support a vaccine mandate for an ‘incredibly deadly’ disease, but not COVID-19. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
  • GOP Sen. Ron Johson said he would support a vaccine mandate only for an “incredibly deadly” disease but not COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 has killed more than 613,000 people in the US and more than 4.2 million globally, per Johns Hopkins University.
  • Johnson also attacked the CDC for changing its guidelines on masking.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, said he would support a vaccine mandate for an “incredibly deadly disease,” but said he would not support such a mandate for COVID-19.

“No,” Johnson said during a Friday evening appearance on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” when asked whether he would ever support any sort of vaccine mandate. “Not unless there’s some incredibly deadly disease. I mean much higher infection-fatality rates than we have with COVID.”

“We don’t know the final infection-fatality rate, but right now it’s looking like it’s not going to be much more than double a bad season of flu,” he added.

Scientists believe that the mortality rate of COVID-19 is “substantially higher” than strains of the seasonal flu, according to Johns Hopkins University. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there were about 34,000 deaths in the United States from flu-related causes in the 2018-2019 flu season.

COVID-19, which emerged in late 2019, has so far killed more than 613,000 people in the US and more than 4.2 million people across the globe, according to data analyzed by Johns Hopkins University. More than 34 million cases of the disease have been diagnosed in the US since the disease was first diagnosed in the US early last year.

New cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from the disease declined with the rollout of the vaccines earlier this year, but the disease is facing a resurgence in the US as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads.

While vaccinated people can contract and spread the Delta variant, experts and data suggest the vaccines prevent serious illness and death. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, earlier this month called the ongoing surge a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Over the past week, vaccine mandates have become more commonplace as cases of the disease rise. Still, Walensky said Friday there would be no federal vaccine mandate for Americans, Reuters reported.

Major US companies, including Walmart and Disney, announced this week that they’d require some of their US employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. President Joe Biden this week announced all federal workers needed to be fully vaccinated or undergo regular testing.

Also in the interview Friday, Johnson lashed out at CDC after it changed its guidance this week on the wearing of face masks

“The American public is losing faith in our federal health agencies – and that’s a real shame,” Johnson said. “If there’s one part of government, other than the Defense Department, you’d like to have faith in, it’d be the federal health agencies — and they’ve lost the trust of the American public.

“Because they’re not making any sense,” he added. “They’re flip-flopping on issues, whether it’s masks, they’re not backing up their pronouncements with science.”

The agency said this week that vaccinated individuals should mask up in areas with a high level of COVID-19, backtracking on its guidance from May that said fully vaccinated people could take their masks off in most settings.