Ohio Attorney General says he will file lawsuit to stop federal vaccine, testing mandate

Coronavirus

Cleveland (WJW) – Ohio’s Attorney General said he will file suit Friday to try to stop a new Biden administration policy mandating that medium and large employers require workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo testing weekly.

Attorney General Dave Yost, a Republican, called the federal mandate an illegal abuse of occupational safety and health administration powers. He said he planned to seek an injunction Friday morning.

“The president is not our nanny, the president is not our doctor and the president is not Congress,” Yost said. “He doesn’t have the authority to write laws and he’s abusing his authority by promulgating this particular rule.”

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Thursday that OSHA will issue an emergency temporary standard Friday mandating that businesses with 100 or more employees develop a vaccination and testing policy within 30 days.

The companies must implement and enforce a policy requiring workers to be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or else submit a negative COVID-19 test result weekly. Unvaccinated workers must wear a face mask starting December 5.

Businesses will not have to provide the testing.

The administration said more than 80 million Americans are impacted by the new federal rule, and it may be expanded to smaller businesses. Workers may seek a medical or religious exemption.

Companies that fail to comply could face up to a $14,000 fine per violation.

Under the rule, workers at facilities such as nursing homes and hospitals that receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funding must be vaccinated and will not have the option for testing.

“We know exposure to coronavirus poses a grave danger to our workers and that vaccination is the most effective way to protect workers from this deadly virus,” U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said.

Several top Ohio Republicans opposed the federal action.

“My position is that employers should not be told by government to vaccinate or require vaccination nor should they be told they cannot require vaccination,” Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said Thursday.

In September, after Biden outlined plans for the mandate, Yost joined 23 other Attorneys General in writing a letter to Biden that outlined their opposition to the mandate.

Yost has also joined the Geauga County Sheriff and other states in a lawsuit to block a vaccine requirement for federal contractors. The Geauga County Jail is an ICE detention facility, so its deputies are subject to the mandate.

Yost said he is confident the courts will stop the new OSHA vaccination and testing mandate from taking effect, noting the temporary standard is rarely used and has been successfully challenged in court all but once.

“We think he’s wrong on the law, wrong on the Constitution and the courts will stop him from enforcing it,” Yost said.

Several organizations impacted by the mandate said Thursday they are still reviewing the lengthy requirements.

“We are actively reviewing OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard. We are confident that Giant Eagle already successfully meets many of the requirements set forth in the temporary standard,” Giant Eagle spokesperson Jannah Jablonski said in a statement. “We will take all necessary incremental steps to ensure we are fully compliant with the temporary standard in advance of the Jan. 4 deadline.”

Spokespeople for the Cleveland Clinic and for Progressive both said they are still reviewing the mandate.

University Hospitals also said it is reviewing the latest federal requirements and emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated.

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