President Joe Biden announces a plan to reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans by using regulatory powers and other actions to substantially increase the number of Americans covered by vaccination requirements in the workplace.

President Joe Biden yesterday announced a plan to reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans by using regulatory powers and other actions to substantially increase the number of Americans covered by vaccination requirements in the workplace.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is developing a rule that will require all employers under the agency’s jurisdiction with 100 or more employees to ensure that their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. In the meantime, OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to implement this requirement.

According to the Commonwealth’s Division of Labor Standards, this mandate is not expected to apply to local governments in Massachusetts because the DLS is the lead agency that enforces workplace standards for the public sector in Massachusetts, not OSHA. Twenty-eight states have OSHA-approved workplace safety and health programs that cover state and local government workers (“State Plans”), and 22 states, including Massachusetts, oversee public sector safety and health standards independently. Thus, the OSHA vaccine mandate will apply to municipal and state workforces in many states, but not here.

The president also announced that he is mandating shots for health care workers, federal contractors and the vast majority of federal workers, who could face disciplinary measures if they refuse. He urged school districts to mandate that all school staff and teachers be inoculated.

Affected employers will be required to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated.

More than 175 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, the White House reports, but nearly 80 million Americans who are eligible to be vaccinated have not yet gotten their first shot. In Massachusetts, 72% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose as of Sept. 7, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, compared to 63% of the U.S. population overall.

The president said his six-pronged, comprehensive national strategy employs the same science-based approach that was used to successfully combat previous variants of COVID-19 earlier this year. He said the plan will ensure that every available tool is being deployed to combat COVID-19 and save lives in the months ahead, while also keeping schools open and safe, and protecting the economy from lockdowns and damage.

The plan’s six objectives are:
• Vaccinating the unvaccinated
• Further protecting the vaccinated
• Keeping schools safely open
• Increasing testing and requiring masking
• Protecting our economic recovery
• Improving care for those with COVID-19

The plan is available at whitehouse.gov/covidplan.

More details are expected from the U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA in the coming days, including on the timing for implementation of this rule and the exact requirements.

Written by
+
+