The White House’s “Path out of the Pandemic” strategy is a national approach with six “prongs”: vaccinating the unvaccinated, further protecting the vaccinated, keeping schools safely open, increasing testing and requiring masking, protecting our economic recovery, and improving care for those with Covid-19.
The first prong—vaccinating the unvaccinated—contains the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirement for vaccination or testing for most workers, as well as a strict vaccine requirement for federal employees and contractors. “The President’s plan will reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans by using regulatory powers and other actions to substantially increase the number of Americans covered by vaccination requirements—these requirements will become dominant in the workplace,” the plan said.
On Friday, industry groups said they back the overall direction of the plan, although they will be closely watching extra costs that might be incurred by it, such as providing paid time off for workers to get vaccinated, paying for weekly tests, or the possibility of some workers quitting instead of complying.
“We look forward to working with the administration to ensure any vaccine requirements are structured in a way that does not negatively impact the operations of manufacturers that have been leading through the pandemic to keep Americans safe. It is important that undue compliance costs do not burden manufacturers, large and small alike,” National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons said in a release.
“Getting all eligible Americans vaccinated will, first and foremost, reduce hospitalizations and save lives. But it is also an economic imperative, in that our recovery and quality of life depend on our ability to end this pandemic,” Timmons said. NAM said it has been pursuing that goal by equipping manufacturers of all sizes with resources to promote vaccination through a project dubbed “This Is Our Shot.”
While the vaccinate-or-test mandate could ultimately affect about 80 million Americans, the rule will not take effect immediately, and could ultimately be appealed, according to transportation trade group the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will need some time to develop its emergency rule for businesses with over 100 employees,” ATA said in a release. “It is also worth noting that OSHA emergency rules do not have a great track record when courts review them, so they will need to carefully consider costs and benefits. As part of that process, ATA will ensure that OSHA and the White House understand the implications of the rule to our supply chain, each ATA member, and all our employees.”
However, support for the approach was stronger from the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), which represents apparel, footwear, and other sewn products companies and their suppliers.
"It’s long past time for all Americans to get vaccinated,” AAFA said in a release. “The only way to address the economic fallout from Covid-19 is to resolve the underlying health crisis that we have been dealing with for the past year-and-a-half. While the economy is doing better than it was last year, recent supply chain disruptions and factory closures due to the Delta variant have stymied our economic recovery. These steps will go a long way to ensure that we are getting vaccines in arms, and that we can protect our workforce from this disease that has already cost the world so much.
COVID-19 vaccination tip #1 from @RealGoodCenter and @theMFGInstitute: Nudge your employees. Remind them daily why and how to get vaccinated. For resources, visit https://t.co/owN2Qemmt2. #ThisisOurShot. pic.twitter.com/u2Se6SeVbz— The NAM (@ShopFloorNAM) September 8, 2021
"COVID-19 has proven a stubborn foe but vaccines have been proven to be the single most effective way to dramatically slow the spread and prevent serious illness and death," @SteveWonk explains as AAFA applauds last evening’s #COVID19 vaccine announcements https://t.co/qHeH30osc8 pic.twitter.com/NeAzzQ9mK8— AAFA (@apparelfootwear) September 10, 2021