The Platform

Adam Schultz

In early November, the Biden administration introduced a mandate that is set to force employees in the United States that belong to companies with at least one hundred workers or more to either undergo weekly COVID-19 tests or receive the jab before January 4th. The Biden administration also stated that employees of nursing homes and healthcare facilities participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs will need to be vaccinated as well.

Reuters reports, “The mandate applies to 84.2 million workers at 1.9 million private-sector employers. Another 18.5 million workers for those employers are exempt because they either work remotely or outside all the time.” President Biden said on November 4, “while I would have much preferred that requirements not become necessary, too many people remain unvaccinated for us to get out of this pandemic for good. So I instituted requirements – and they are working.”

The new policy hopes to result in millions of more Americans being vaccinated during its first year of implementation. Roughly 1,000 Americans are dying every day from COVID — most of whom are unvaccinated. The U.S. has seen upwards of 760,000 COVID-related deaths, and we must continue to fight our way out of this pandemic.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be conducting on-site workplace compliance inspections to ensure the guidelines are being implemented and followed. If a company fails to comply with the new mandate, it will face fines of about $14,000 per individual violation. The amount would increase with a greater number of violations. Officials say that a company’s employees can all remain unvaccinated despite the rule, as long as they wear masks and get tested regularly.

As expected, the government’s announcement of the mandate’s enforcement was met with public outcry. Multiple large business groups have expressed their concern regarding the mandate. They argue that the requirements will harm the nation’s businesses — specifically during the busy holiday season that could be cut short if employees refuse to follow guidelines before January 4th. David French with the National Retail Federation argues that the declaration of this emergency will “impose burdensome new requirements on retailers during the crucial holiday shopping season.”

The association believes that despite the mandate beginning after the holiday season, there will be a time of planning and action within American businesses during the busy season, and that will have a negative impact on the country’s companies. Similarly, the National Federation of Independent Businesses said the new mandate creates difficulties and trouble for businesses. “NFIB remains opposed to this rule that restricts the freedom of small businesses owners to decide how best to operate their own businesses and imposes unwarranted burdens on small businesses that further threaten the small business recovery,” executive director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center, Karen Harned, stated earlier this month.

In reaction to the new guidelines being presented, at least 27 Republican-led states filed lawsuits shortly after the announcement. They are challenging Biden’s requirement for private companies. Missouri’s Attorney General Eric Schmidt believes, “This mandate is unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise.” He stated this in a court filing in the St. Louis-based 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of 11 states. The only Democratic attorney general was Iowa’s Tom Miller. Later, lawsuits were filed by more states. Prior to the OSHA ruling, many states had created legislation blocking or limiting COVID-related mandates for employers.

The voices speaking out against the Biden administration’s new mandate are generally much louder than those in support. In recent months, multiple large and notable businesses in America have spoken out publicly to encourage the Biden administration to expand its vaccine mandate plans. Some of these businesses include the AFL-CIO and the United Food and Commercial Workers. Each of these organizations previously argued that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was not providing adequate COVID-19 safety standards in a lawsuit filed against the Biden administration.

The outcry that the new OSHA mandate was met with was expected; however, implementing guidelines such as these are crucial to the United States’ hopes to end the pandemic. Many Americans have made the decision to continue with their lives and act as if the nation is not still in the middle of a deadly pandemic, but the unfortunate truth is that the effects of the virus do not stop until the world acts against it. We must refuse to give up and continue to fight our battle with COVID. President Biden made a brave call to implement such mandates, but it was ultimately a step in the right direction for the nation.

Bryn Donovan is a senior in Wisconsin who publishes content for the Foreign Policy Youth Collaborative. Bryn participates in many clubs and activities in school and is trying to make a difference. Bryn loves working with others and hearing others points of view. Her goal in life is to never stop learning.