It’s December and we still don’t know what is going to become of President Biden’s directive that all employers with more than 100 employees must mandate COVID-19 vaccines. The vaccine piece is supposed to go into effect on January 4th, but another provision goes into effect on December 5th. That part of the new rule mandates that anyone who is unvaccinated wear a mask indoors and undergo a weekly COVID-19 test.
On November 6th, the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals pressed pause on the plan calling it
a “one-size-fits-all sledgehammer.” Several state attorneys general and some smaller, independent employers raised challenges to the mandate calling it “an egregious government overreach into citizens’ private lives,” and “an assault on private business.” Now, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the arguments, but it’s very likely the issue will end up in the hands of the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, eleven states joined together to file a lawsuit against the administration claiming the mandate is “unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise.” This particular lawsuit will be heard by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
As these cases move through the courts, federal contractors found themselves facing a different deadline. Anyone working as a contractor, or subcontractor, for the federal government was supposed to be fully vaccinated by January 18th, 2022, but a judge in Kentucky recently issued a preliminary injunction that blocks the implementation of the mandate. US District Judge Gregory VanTatenhove said the main problem with the mandate is that President Biden may not have the authority to impose it.
On the other end of the spectrum, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently banned businesses and schools in his state from mandating the vaccine. A special three-day legislative session was held to pass vaccine-related laws. The newly passed legislation allows employers, including government entities, to ask employees to get vaccinated, but lets people opt out for several reasons including religious objections or health issues. Those who have had COVID-19 would be exempt from getting the shots. Schools are also not allowed to require vaccinations or masks.
At the very same time, the American Medical Association and dozens of other health care groups tried to convince employers to voluntarily implement the vaccine mandate regardless of all of the objections. In their statement, the physicians, nurses, and other healthcare experts say following the mandate is the way businesses can step up and fight the virus.
That being said, a federal court temporarily halted the mandate for healthcare workers in 10 states. They are Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
The judge felt it was better for the community to have hospitals and other healthcare facilities fully staffed, even if some of the providers are not fully vaccinated. As I mentioned at the beginning, we are still faced with more questions than answers as we head into the new year. We promise to keep you updated as things unfold.
Jennifer Gladstone is a news anchor and journalist with more than 20 years of experience in front of the camera. She's worked in several markets, large and small, and has performed nearly every task needed in a newsroom. As EBI’s Screening News Editor, she keeps EBI’s customers and blog subscribers up to date on the latest screening news and legislative alerts affecting companies of all sizes.