Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Monday shared some controversial thoughts on social media about those who remain unvaccinated against COVID. The former Obama administration official praised Austria's tyrannical move of locking down unvaccinated citizens following a rise in COVID cases, posing the question of whether the same should be done in other countries that continue to struggle against COVID.
"If you a danger to yourself and others, you must remain at home," Duncan wrote on Twitter on Monday, sharing a link to a New York Times story on how Austria announced a targeted lockdown for unvaccinated citizens. "If you aren't, you are free to roam around the country. Austria is onto something..."
In what the Associated Press called "the most drastic of a string of measures," Austria said through its officials that police patrols and checks will be ramped up and unvaccinated people who are caught violating the lockdown measures will be fined up to $1,660. About 2 million Austrians are affected by the lockdowns, Fox News reported. Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said that that goal was to increase vaccination rates across the country.
Duncan approved of Austria's lockdown measures, but was quickly criticized online. His comments also raised questions over how much liberty unvaccinated Americans truly have as COVID continues to circulate around the country.
A Twitter user responded to Duncan's comments, writing, "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."
Another Twitter user by the name of Sylvia Fogel commented, "This policy is a human rights violation. Hard stop. I fear for our collective good when I hear voices like yours."
Last week, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld its ruling to put a hold on President Joe Biden's order for companies with at least 100 employees to implement a vaccine requirement on its workers. According to Reuters, the judges ruled in their opinion that "The mandate is staggeringly overbroad. The mandate is a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer that makes hardly any attempt to account for differences in workplaces (and workers)."
However, on Monday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged businesses to implement the Biden administration's vaccine and testing requirements despite the federal court order's halt. According to CNBC, Chamber vice president Marc Freedman argued that "employers still need to take this as a live ETS until it is definitively shut down" despite the 5th circuit's decision. The Biden administration had already asked the court to lift it's hold, claiming that stopping the measure will "likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day."
The National Retail Federation, the American Trucking Associations and the National Federation of Independent Business have already filed lawsuits in the 5th Circuit to challenge the Biden administration's vaccine mandates. They argued that this would only exacerbate the current staffing and supply chain problems the country faces in the midst of the holiday season.