Questions linger after Biden announces vaccine requirements for businesses
DETROIT (FOX 2) - It's been 24 hours since President Joe Biden announced private businesses must require the COVID-19 vaccine but many are wondering how it will be implemented and if it's legal.
President Biden announced the new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant.
The expansive rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. And the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.
Biden also signed an executive order to require vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government — with no option to test out. That covers several million more workers.
Detroit-based attorney Deborah Brouwer said it's too soon to know exactly what will happen next.
"What I’m mostly saying to them is we’re going to have to see how it specifically plays out," Brouwer said.
She said companies are likely to challenge it but she hasn't seen anyone say that yet.
"It’s very new. I think that might happen. the government certainly does have the right to protect the health and safety of workers," Brouwer said.
Biden announced the new requirements in a Thursday afternoon address from the White House as part of a new "action plan" to address the latest rise in coronavirus cases and the stagnating pace of COVID-19 shots that has raised doubts among the public over his handling of the pandemic.
Just two months ago Biden prematurely declared the nation’s "independence" from the virus. Now, despite more than 208 million Americans having at least one dose of the vaccines, the U.S. is seeing about 300% more new COVID-19 infections a day, about two-and-a-half times more hospitalizations, and nearly twice the number of deaths compared to the same time last year.
Already the constitutionality is being questioned.
"There are certain businesses over which the department of labor through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has certain authority. They can require that there be certain protections within that workspace and that’s the authority that the president is using," Oakland University Economist and Professor Dr. Michael Greiner said.
Even though the order was issued Thursday, it could take some time before the effects are in place.
"It’s going to take a while for the effect to start to really impact people. It's going to take time for the department of labor to really issue these rules and start enforcing them," Dr. Greiner said.
Brouwer said companies should start preparing information on how to request proof, store medical data, and provide testing - even if the cost is passed on to them.
"If that’s passed on to companies, that’s going to be a significant cost: she said.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.