January 07, 2022

Mandate Minute: Week 7

BY Dee Pekruhn

This Week’s Highlights:

Volume Twelve: Air Date 1.3.22. “State Vaccine Mandates”

While we wait to hear what the Supreme Court has to say about OSHA and CMS federal-level mandates, the current status of COVID-19 vaccine mandates is a crazy quilt of “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” across state and local governments, employers, and various venues. In some states public employees, health care workers, child- care workers, or others are required to be vaccinated. Various businesses have mandated that their workers be vaccinated. Some restaurants, theaters, sports arenas or other venues are demanding proof of vaccination to enter.

Numerous states have taken the opposite approach, adopting new laws intended to curtail workplace vaccine mandates. A couple of states — Montana and Tennessee — have sought to ban such mandates entirely. Others have enacted laws that may not preclude private employers from requiring employee vaccinations but, rather, impose specific limitations on any such programs. For example, several states enacted laws that require private employers to offer expanded exemption options for employees who do not wish to be vaccinated for various reasons.

To read more about the current state of play in healthcare, read this article from LeadingAge. For a more general update on states across the country read this article.

Volume Thirteen: Air Date 1.5.22. “A News Roundup”

As there’s a good amount of mandate “news” today, I thought I’d do a “news round up” to get us up to speed on what’s happening around the country.

· Just before Christmas, DC joined a growing list of major cities that require patrons to show proof of vaccination before entering restaurants, gyms, theatres, and other indoor businesses. The requirement begins the middle of this month.

· A large rally that was planned for the National Mall on Sunday, January 23 to protest vaccine mandates has moved all its hotel reservations to Arlington, VA due to DC’s vaccine mandate; ironically, Arlington County reports that 92% of its residents have had at least one COVID shot, and has a correspondingly low rate of hospitalization.

· The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota has fired 700 of its employees who failed to comply with their vaccine mandate; this represents approx. 1% of their workforce of 73,000. Outside of these terminations, the Mayo Clinic did grant a majority of the medical and religious exemptions that were sought by employees.

· On the flip side of that coin, in Tennessee, the Ballard Health CEO is seeking waivers from the federal government on the vaccine mandate, citing a major staffing crisis in which 2,000 employees, or 15% of their workforce, are unvaccinated. In addition, 6 of the nine core employees in their heart surgery center are out with COVID – all of whom are vaccinated – prompting the hospital to close the center and send patients to nearby hospitals.

· Macy’s – which also owns Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury – has requested the vaccination status of all its employees, signaling that it is preparing to institute a vaccine mandate in alignment with federal requirements. The retail industry resisted mandates in November, This follows a joint effort by the retail industry in November to resist the mandates, citing staffing challenges especially during the holidays.