Unless you were too busy celebrating the one-year anniversary of Capitolism last week, you probably heard that the White House on Thursday announced a new plan to combat COVID-19 on several fronts. Undoubtedly the most controversial of the president’s proposals is a forthcoming federal rule—issued by the Department of Labor on an expedited, “emergency” basis—that major private U.S. employers require their employees to be vaccinated or to submit to weekly testing. Because the new mandate hasn’t actually been issued yet, coming to definitive conclusions about it is a bit tricky (to say the least). Nevertheless, given how significant—and in my view radical and problematic—the White House proposal appears to be, it’s well worth our time today to dig into what we do know about the order and all of the various concerns that it raises.
What the Mandate Does
We don’t have the actual text of the mandate just yet—and as we’ll discuss below, that matters a lot—but here’s what we know so far from the White House:
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure 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. OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to implement this requirement. This requirement will impact over 80 million workers in private sector businesses with 100+ employees …