ATLANTA (CBS46) -- President Biden announced new vaccine requirements for federal workers, large employers, and healthcare providers on Thursday.
The new requirements could apply to as many as 100 million Americans, according to the White House, and amount to Biden's strongest push yet to require vaccines for much of the country.
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” said Biden.
The President directed the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to develop a rule that private employers, with more than 100 workers, require them to vaccinated or test for the virus weekly. All federal employees, contractors, and workers at Medicare or Medicaid facilities must be fully vaccinated.
“The employment relationship, the workplace, is a commercial arena,” said Anthony Kreis, an assistant law professor at Georgia State University. “It’s a place that the federal government regulates in a lot of different ways, not just in terms of workplace safety but also the nature of what employers can do.”
Kreis said the federal government has been regulating workplace safety and standards since the Supreme Court unanimously upheld The Fair Labor Standards Act in 1941.
“This has clear precedent in constitutional law where we can regulate labor and the workplace and workplace safety,” he explained. “As a statutory matter, Congress has given OSHA the authority to promulgate emergency rules exactly for these types of scenarios.”
However, Governor Brian Kemp threatened to take legal action.
“I will pursue every legal option available to the state of Georgia to stop this blatantly unlawful overreach by the Biden administration,” Kemp wrote on Twitter during the president’s announcement.
CBS46 reached out several of Georgia’s largest employers and received the following responses:
While we await the details of the administration’s plan, Delta is proud to have developed a vaccination program that has already seen 78% of employees get vaccinated. Our employee vaccination numbers continue to grow following the announcement of our healthcare premium surcharge starting in November, and weekly testing starting next week, for those employees who choose to remain unvaccinated.
We’re watching this closely. We don’t currently require associates to get vaccinated. We’re communicating regularly with associates through our internal channels to encourage COVID-19 vaccination, and we provide information and resources to make it easier for our associates to get the vaccine.
The new "emergency temporary standard" from the Labor Department will require large employers to give their workers paid time off to get vaccinated. If businesses don't comply, the government will "take enforcement actions," which could include "substantial fines up to nearly $14,000 per violation, according to officials.
To read the president’s "six-pronged, comprehensive national strategy" to fighting COVID-19, click here.