President Joe Biden’s stringent new vaccine policies, announced Thursday, are being received with mixed reactions from both sides of the aisle.
The Biden administration has directed the Labor Department to require all businesses with 100 employees or more to require their workers to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result weekly. The policy is expected to target about 80 million Americans and employers could face thousands of dollars in fines if they don’t comply.
Approximately 17 million healthcare employees, working in facilities accepting Medicare or Medicaid funding, must also be vaccinated.
In addition, Biden has required nearly all government employees and contractors to be vaccinated, without the weekly testing option.
Some in support of Biden’s plan said they’re frustrated with people who have not been vaccinated yet.
“I am frustrated. I feel like it is selfish and harms your community,” said Avery Briggs, a third-year college student.
Ron Carlisle, visiting San Diego from Fallon, Nevada, said he does not support the President’s orders.
“There’s people out there who don’t want it [the vaccine] and I respect their decision not to get it,” said Carlisle. “I see a giant legal challenge to this. And I believe it will win handily."
Employment attorney Sergio Perez said he expects the president’s order will be challenged in court.
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“There are a lot of variables as to whether or not a challenge would be successful,” said Perez, adding that employees could provide a legitimate medical reason to avoid vaccinations but may still be subject to weekly testing.
As for employers who challenge the President’s order, Perez said that might be a tougher fight.
“They may get a favorable ruling at the trial level, then we would anticipate the Biden administration would appeal to the Appellate court, then if need be, to the Superior court,” Perez said.
And from a healthcare perspective, Dr. Corinne McDaniels-Davidson, an epidemiologist with San Diego State University, said the new policies will certainly motivate more people to get vaccinated, which she said could help prevent a strain on the healthcare system.
“Not getting vaccinated doesn’t just impact the individual. If they get sick, they’re taking up healthcare resources. Now care is delayed for other people, or potentially that person can’t get care,” explained McDaniels-Davidson.
McDaniels-Davidson pointed at other healthcare systems that have had to activate Crisis Care Standards in other parts of the country.
In a national address, Biden said vaccine reluctance was lengthening the pandemic and slowing the country's economic rebound.
Only 53% of Americans are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC. In San Diego COunty, 76% of eligible people are fully vaccinated.