Biden admin surgeon general, speaking about COVID vax mandates, says “nothing is off the table”

President Joe Biden’s Surgeon General just confirmed that the Biden administration has not ruled out a coronavirus vaccine mandate for businesses with fewer than 100 employees. 

During an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was asked by Martha Raddatz: “If the law survives legal challenges, will the administration be extending the mandate to smaller employers with fewer than 100 employees?”

Murthy responded:

Well, Martha, certainly nothing is off the table at this moment, but the focus is implementing the current rule that OSHA put out.

Background

The subject of the interview with Murthy was the new coronavirus vaccine rule announced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency tasked with implementing the coronavirus vaccine mandate that Biden announced back in September.

Under OSHA’s new rule, employers with more than 100 employees have until January 4th to either get their employees vaccinated or to have them undergo frequent coronavirus testing. Failure to comply with the rule will result in hefty fines.

As Raddatz suggested, the new rule is currently facing legal challenges brought by Republican attorneys general. And, a court has already granted a stay, halting the rule from going into effect, after finding that there is evidence that there could be statutory and constitutional issues with the rule.

The Biden administration, nonetheless, is urging businesses to move forward with the implementation of OSHA’s new rule.

“People should not wait,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “They should continue to move forward and make sure they’re getting their workplace vaccinated.”

Looking ahead

When OSHA released its new rule, it suggested that the Biden administration is also considering whether or not to institute a coronavirus vaccine mandate for all employers with fewer than 100 employees.

“OSHA needs additional time to assess the capacity of smaller employers, and is seeking comment to help the agency make that determination,” OSHA wrote.

The agency went on to suggest that, at the moment, it would not support such a mandate because it is “less confident” that companies with fewer than 100 employees have the capacity to implement such a mandate.

But, now we know from the surgeon general that this is something that is on the table, which makes the current legal battle over OSHA’s rule for employers with more than 100 employees all the more important.

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