PENNSYLVANIA — Jim Jackson, a small business owner from Allentown, penned an op-ed in the Allentown Morning Call over the weekend calling out members of the Pennsylvania GOP for their disastrous handling of COVID-19. Jackson says Republican politicians’ failure to lead and embracing of conspiracy theories actively fuels the deadly pandemic and harms their constituents.

The Morning Call: How Republican politicians prolong pandemic by politicizing vaccinations 

President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate is exactly what the Lehigh Valley economy needs. That’s not a controversial statement — talk to most of the people I see in my neighborhood, or at the daycare I run in Allentown, and they’ll tell you the same thing.

But that hasn’t stopped Republicans in Washington and Harrisburg from fighting him every step of the way. For a small business owner like me, I can tell you firsthand that Republican politicians’ failure to lead is prolonging the pandemic and hurting our economy.

Small businesses like mine are everything in America. It’s been a tough year and a half since we were blindsided by COVID — but small businesses remain the most powerful and reliable economic engine in the U.S.

My wife and I started Kula Learning Center 18 years ago. Our son was born premature and we were unable to find a daycare to provide the service and care he needed — so we decided to do it ourselves and serve the families of the entire community in the process.

I won’t lie; this last year and a half has been very tough. We had to close our second location because too many parents, out of work in the depths of the pandemic, couldn’t afford day care anymore.

Luckily, President Biden’s American Rescue Plan saved us. Through the Pay Protection Program loans, we were able to keep our day care afloat.

Now, we are back to the same number of kids enrolled as we had before the pandemic, if not more.

Joe Biden, in his 2020 campaign for president, promised he’d do everything he could to get the coronavirus pandemic under control. With aid to working families and small businesses, and distribution of multiple effective vaccines — he has kept that promise.

However, rather than work with President Biden to vaccinate the country, the Republican opposition has done everything in its power to politicize vaccination. They are holding us back and hurting our businesses and economy. They are actively fueling a deadly pandemic, embracing conspiracy theories, and harming us, their constituents.

The result? Clogged emergency rooms for our cities and missing loved ones for many of our families.

For the rest of us, our economy is hurting and small businesses like mine are struggling — just so they can score political points against President Biden. The only thing our president has done to deserve their ire is to act in the interest of public health.

President Biden is trying to boost the U.S. vaccination rate to save lives so we can all return to a normal life.

Small businesses will continue to suffer unless there is a major policy intervention at the federal level — and President Biden acted.

Biden moved aggressively to combat the spread of the delta variant by announcing a six-part COVID-19 Action Plan to ensure that we are using every available tool to combat this virus and save even more lives in the months ahead. It also intends to keep schools open and safe and protect our economy from lockdowns and damage.

Business owners across the country applauded the president for laying down a federal minimum standard on vaccines and testing. As we see it, it can only be good for business. The less energy our customers spend worrying about COVID, the better it is for our businesses and economy.

People are more likely to go out and shop, or drop their kids off at a daycare in a bustling downtown, when they don’t have to fear that the people next to them or behind the register can give them a deadly disease.

I’m not the only one who is grateful for President Biden’s action. Recent polls have shown President Biden’s new vaccine mandate is extremely popular among local voters. Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly support President Biden’s plan to crush the virus and get our economy back on track.

Allentown business owners like me are breathing a sigh of relief thanks to President Biden’s vaccine mandate. If we aren’t keeping the children we serve safe, we can’t run our business, and we can’t help them learn and grow into curious and prepared young adults.

The Biden plan relieves the pressure on us and keeps our whole community safe.

I implore Pennsylvania Republicans to join the rest of the American people and support health, disease prevention, and yes, President Biden’s plan.