President Biden talks vaccine mandates during Chicago visit
CHICAGO - President Joe Biden took his vaccination campaign to the Chicago area on Thursday. It was a quick trip — only three hours.
But the president said he wanted to deliver his message in Illinois because the state is one of the leaders in vaccination rates.
"We know there is no other way to beat the pandemic than to get the vast majority of people vaccinated," President Biden said. "It’s as simple as that."
Air Force One landed at O’Hare around 1 p.m. and President Biden was greeted by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker.
"We are proudly the most vaccinated state in the Midwest," Pritzker said.
The president then headed to a huge construction site in Elk Grove Village to greet workers building a new data processing center for Microsoft.
The company building the center, Clayco Construction, has imposed a vaccination requirement for all of its employees.
The president applauded that initiative, which reflects his recent executive order that all companies with more than 100 workers require their employees to either be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID.
"I am calling on more employers to act," Biden said. "My message is to require your employees to get vaccinated. With vaccinations we’re going to beat this pandemic. Finally. Without them we face endless months of chaos in our hospitals, damage to our country and anxiety in our schools."
But not everybody was happy with the president’s message. A crowd of about 300 anti-vaccination demonstrators stood across the street from the construction site, including Enoch Essendrop, who said he won’t get the shot because of medical concerns.
"We have two kids. We plan on having more. I don’t want anything going wrong with her. If other people choose to get it that’s their business but I choose not to. Even if it means my job," he said.
But Illinois Democratic Congressman Sean Casten said it’s everyone’s civic duty to get vaccinated.
"Getting vaccinated is something you do to protect everybody. This is not about your personal freedom," he said.
President Biden headed back to Washington by 4 p.m. His wife, First Lady Jill Biden, is expected to visit Chicago next week.
Biden was last in Illinois on July 7 when he delivered remarks about his infrastructure plan at McHenry County College in Crystal Lake.