Businesses with over 100 employees will need to either require their workforce to be fully vaccinated or require unvaccinated employees to take weekly COVID-19 tests as part of a new country-wide vaccination effort.
President Biden announced a new “six-pronged” national strategy on Thursday that his administration says will protect the country’s economy from lockdowns and further damage in the wake of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
The action plan, which Biden’s administration refers to as the “Path out of the Pandemic” details how the administration plans to increase testing and require masking, protect the country’s economic recovery, vaccinate the unvaccinated, keep schools open, protect people who are already vaccinated and improve care for those with COVID-19.
As part of the plan’s strategy to vaccinate those who have not yet been vaccinated against the virus, the Biden administration announced that the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require employers with over 100 employees to either vaccinate their workers or have those workers produce weekly negative test results.
Through the OSHA requirement, employers will be mandated to provide paid time off for any employee receiving the vaccination.
The requirement could impact over 80 million workers in private sector business, according to the administration. Companies that fail to comply with the rule could face penalties as high as $14,000 per violation, according to a report by the Associated Press.
Tom Baldrige, president and CEO of the Lancaster Chamber, has supported vaccination efforts but said that the most recent announcement are an overreach that will cause disruptions and confusion among businesses.
“Fact is, most businesses of all sizes have been leading the way since the start of the crisis with mitigation efforts that work best for them, their workers and their customers,” said Baldrige. “This one-size-fits-all mandate simply upends that hard work and creates, at least for now, more questions than answers.”
Biden has also signed executive orders to require all federal executive branch workers and contractors that do business with the federal government to be vaccinated.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking action as part of Biden’s plan and will require COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most health care settings that receive either Medicare or Medicaid reimbursements such as hospitals, home health agencies and ambulatory surgical settings.
Governor Tom Wolf praised Biden on the administration’s most recent efforts to vaccinate against the virus, noting that two-thirds of Pennsylvanians ages 18 and older are fully vaccinated.
“I’m grateful that the Biden Administration is taking strong steps to protect the public,” he said. “I strongly support the efforts at the federal level to prioritize vaccinations, which further support my administration’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 – efforts that are working,” he said in a release.