Yesterday, President Joe Biden announced that employees working for private sector businesses with 100 or more employees must receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Under the "Path out of The Pandemic: President Biden's COVD-19 Action Plan", the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) mandating covered employees to either receive a vaccination or submit to weekly testing. Under the new ETS, unvaccinated employees must produce a negative COVID-19 test at least once a week before returning to work.
President Biden's new directive also calls for the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to require employees of health care facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to receive the vaccine. In addition, the federal government will also require employees of federal contractors to be fully vaccinated or comply with weekly testing and other mitigation measures.
Approximately 100 million employees will likely be affected by this action plan, making it one of the largest public health initiatives in our nation's history. This comes as many states are still grappling with increasing COVID-19 infections among unvaccinated members of the public.
So far, the plan does not include requirements for state, county, or local governments. Nonetheless, local governments should continue their awareness of ever-changing rules and regulations around vaccinations, masking, and other COVID-19 mitigation measures. Currently, the State of Illinois requires all persons over the age of two who can medically tolerate a face covering to wear one in public places, including employees unless their workplace allows for six feet of social distancing.