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

Senator Ron Johnson said Friday that he would only support a vaccine mandate for an "incredibly deadly" disease, not COVID-19. Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
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GOP Senator Ron Johson said he would only support a vaccine mandate for an "incredibly deadly" disease, not COVID-19.
According to Johns Hopkins University, COVID-19 has killed more than 613,000 people in the United States and more than 4.2 million people worldwide.
Johnson also attacked the CDC for changing its masking guidelines.
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Senator 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 an appearance on Fox News' The Ingraham Angle Friday night when asked if he would ever endorse a vaccine mandate. "Not unless there is an incredibly deadly disease. I mean much higher infection mortality rates than we have with COVID."
"We don't know the final infection and death rate, but right now it looks like there won't be much more than double a bad flu season," he added.
Scientists believe the death rate from COVID-19 is "significantly higher" than that of strains of seasonal flu, according to Johns Hopkins University. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there were approximately 34,000 deaths from flu-related causes in the United States during the 2018-2019 flu season.
COVID-19, which surfaced in late 2019, has so far killed more than 613,000 people in the US and more than 4.2 million people around the world, according to data analyzed by Johns Hopkins University. Since the disease was first diagnosed in the US early last year, more than 34 million cases of the disease have been diagnosed in the US.
New cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the disease fell with the introduction of the vaccines earlier this year, but the disease is on the brink of 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, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the sustained surge earlier this month a "pandemic of the unvaccinated".
In the past week, vaccination requirements have become more common with the increase in the number of illnesses. Still, Walensky said Friday there would be no federal vaccination mandate for Americans, Reuters reported.
Major US companies, including Walmart and Disney, announced this week that some of their US employees will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19. President Joe Biden announced this week that all federal employees must be fully vaccinated or regularly tested.
Also in a Friday interview, Johnson slammed the CDC after changing its face mask wearing guidelines this week
"The American public is losing confidence in our federal health authorities - and that's a real shame," said Johnson. “If there's any part of government other than the Department of Defense that you want to trust, it's the federal health department - and they've lost the trust of the American public.
"Because they don't make sense," he added. "They freak out on topics, be it masks, they don't back up their statements with science."
The agency said this week that vaccinated people should mask themselves in areas with high levels of COVID-19, following its May guideline that fully vaccinated people could remove their masks in most settings.
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