WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden took his most aggressive action yet in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, ordering employers with 100 or more workers to ensure their workforce is entirely vaccinated or face weekly COVID testing.
In an address to the nation in which he outlined a six-part plan, Biden said his administration also ordered that all federal employees and employees of government contractors must be vaccinated.
Many GOP governors have come out in opposition to Biden’s orders and said they would file lawsuits once the orders go into effect.
Here’s what we know about the president’s new plan to help fight the pandemic.
What did the Biden administration order and is vaccine mandate unconstitutional?
Biden said the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration would issue an “emergency temporary standard” that mandates employers with 100 or more workers require the vaccine or conduct weekly testing of unvaccinated employees.
OSHA has the power to issue those standards until a permanent standard is developed when “workers are in grave danger” from exposure to toxic substances or agents or to new hazards, according to its website.
For example, in June, it issued an emergency temporary standard requiring health care employers to provide N95 masks and other personal protective equipment to some employees and ensure social distancing. The orders are subject to challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals.
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Who does the vaccine mandate cover?
The vaccine mandate covers all private employers with more than 100 employees, meaning it will generally apply to corporations and other large businesses. In all, more than 80 million workers are affected.