CLEVELAND (WJW) – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said he will continue legal efforts to prevent a federal mandate of COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor for companies with more than 100 employees.
“It exceeds the president’s power,” said Yost. “He’s not allowed to write the laws. The cop that writes you a speeding ticket doesn’t get to set the speed limit. In a democracy, elected representatives pass the laws, the president enforces them.”
A U.S. Department of Labor Spokesperson said in a statement, “OSHA is gratified the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit dissolved the Fifth Circuit’s stay of the Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard. OSHA can now once again implement this vital workplace health standard, which will protect the health of workers by mitigating the spread of the unprecedented virus in the workplace.”
OSHA said to account for any uncertainty about the legal challenges to the COVID mandate, it will allow more time for companies to implement changes. In addition, it will exercise enforcement discretion related to compliance issues.
“OSHA will not issue citations for noncompliance with any requirements of the ETS before January 10 and will not issue citations for noncompliance with the standard’s testing requirements before February 9, so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard,” the statement continued. “OSHA will work closely with the regulated community to provide compliance assistance.”
What is not immediately clear is how the government plans to enforce the policy. Case Western Reserve University Law and Bioethics Professor Sharona Hoffman said enforcement is no easy task.
“There’s also a question of whether OSHA can actually enforce this against every large employer in the country,” said Hoffman. “It’s not clear everyone will actually get caught.”
Yost said he hopes to have a government response to the appeal by Dec. 30.
“This isn’t like the smallpox or measles vaccines where if you get vaccinated you can’t get it or pass it on,” said Yost. “This only improves your outcome, and you can still spread the disease even when you have the vaccine. So the notion that somehow we all need to get vaccinated because then the disease won’t spread is just not supported by the science and that changes the equation on the degree of an emergency this is.”
Hoffman said the pushback represents a historical contrast from previous government public health measures.
“In the past, people were often happy to have the government take the lead, provide its expertise, provide guidance, but now this particular issue has become very political, very litigious,” said Hoffman.
The Biden administration said its policy will reduce the risk of contracting COVID in the workplace and estimates the mandate will result in 23 million people getting vaccinated, prevent more than 6,500 deaths and more than 250,000 hospitalizations.
“This is not about vaccinating or not vaccinating, this is about the power of the government to compel you, to force you to get a vaccination. That’s what this case is about,” said Yost.
Giant Eagle offered at statement about the vaccine mandate:
The safety of Team Members and guests continues to be our top priority and we believe the best way to protect oneself and others from COVID-19 is to be vaccinated.
We continue to actively monitor all developments related to 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, including but not limited to having Team Members give prompt notice when they receive a positive COVID-19 test, immediately removing any Team Member who tests positive from his or her work responsibilities and requiring all Team Members regardless of vaccination status to wear face masks or other approved face coverings. We are taking all necessary incremental steps to ensure we are fully compliant with the temporary standard whenever it may be put into effect.