County begins formulating plan for impending vaccine mandate

Published 7:01 pm Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Appeals court upholds federal mandate, heading to Supreme Court

The Mower County Board of Commissioners, along with the county’s Human Resources Department, took early steps toward formulating a plan in the shadow of the upcoming federal vaccine mandate that was reinstated on appeals.

The mandate issued by President Joe Biden, originally was slated to begin on Nov. 4, and requires that all businesses with 100 or more employees either be fully vaccinated or submit to weekly tests and wear a mask.

But the mandate was challenged early and was tied up in courts, but earlier this month the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the mandate, which could become standard as soon as Jan. 3, though citations for noncompliance wouldn’t be issued until Jan. 10.

Organizations would also not be cited until Feb. 9, as long as businesses made good-faith efforts to implement the rules.

However, there are still questions surrounding the mandate, including a Jan. 7 appearance before the United States Supreme Court.

“We don’t have to have this in place and finalized until Jan. 3,” said Kris Kohn, Human Resources director. “We need to be working on this.”

While not voting for a specific resolution, the board did recommend that the county follow OSHA’s recommendations that would either require employees to be fully vaccinated [not including a booster] with two shots unless it is the one shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.

The other avenue is that employees submit to weekly testing and must always be wearing a mask.

Kohn told the board that proof of vaccination would not be considered using the cards people were given at the time as they can actually be purchased off of Amazon.

Only downloaded state documents would be accepted.

Another big question centers on who would pay for the tests.

Kohn told the board she would start an early gathering of records volunteered by county workers to see just how many county employees are currently vaccinated.