Last week, President Biden held a press conference and issued his COVID-19 Action Plan the “Path Out of the Pandemic.” The executive order issues several mandates many of which specifically involve vaccines. Some of the key provisions include:
- Requiring all employers with 100+ employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly.
- Requiring vaccinations for all federal workers and for millions of contractors that do business with the federal government.
- Requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for over 17 million health care workers at Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals and other health care settings.
- Calling on large entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or testing for entry.
- Requiring employers to provide paid time off to get vaccinated.
- Providing easy access to booster shots for all eligible Americans
- Calling on all states to adopt vaccine requirements for all school employees.
- Providing additional funding to school districts for safe school reopening, including backfilling salaries and other funding withheld by states for implementing COVID safety measures.
- Mobilizing industry to expand easy-to-use testing production.
- Making at-home tests more affordable.
- Expanding free, pharmacy testing.
- Continue to require masking on federal property.
- Continuing to require masking for interstate travel and double fines.
- Streamlining the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness process.
There are still many details to be released as the order directs OSHA and other related agencies to issue “guidance” that will more clearly articulate the exact rules and processes that must be followed.
We would also speculate that this executive order will likely face some legal challenges and its implementation in Republican-controlled states that have resisted vaccine mandates, which will likely be at the center of these challenges.
From an H-2B perspective, at this time we believe this order would require vaccination for any H-2B worker that works for a company with more than 100 employees or works on federal property.
This is an issue NALP has already communicated with the administration. In August, we received intel that a vaccine executive order was being drafted and we sent a letter requesting that the Administration allow foreign H-2B workers to enter the country unvaccinated and allow them to receive the vaccination once here.