Surgeon General suggests vax mandate could expand to small biz

Surgeon General suggests vax mandate could expand to small biz

US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said Sunday that “nothing is off the table” when asked whether the Biden administration would try to expand its federal work-vaccine mandate to smaller firms.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Murthy said the government’s mandate for companies with more than 100 staffers is “appropriate and necessary” — and suggested it might be widened, assuming it survives multiple court challenges. 

“Certainly nothing is off the table at this moment,” Murthy said.

Still, “The focus right now is implementing the current rule that OSHA put out,” the top doc added, referring to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s edict announced Thursday involving larger companies.

Under the new mandate, the employers must adopt policies that require all their workers to be vaccinated or in some cases at least require weekly testing, all by Jan 4. The companies that fail to comply face a $14,000 fine per infraction.

Martha Raddatz interviews Dr. Vivek Murthy on "This Week."
Dr. Vivek Murthy suggested the government’s work-vaccine mandate might be widened on “This Week.”

A federal appeals court in Louisiana blocked the mandate Saturday, giving the government until Monday afternoon to submit a response.  The mandate also has been challenged by a slew of other states, including Texas and Missouri.

Murthy was asked whether he thought the mandate could negatively impact businesses that are already struggling to find employees amid a national labor shortage.

“I hear time and time again, from small businesses, large businesses and workers … that what’s really hurting the economy is actually COVID itself,” Murthy responded. 

workers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and their supporters protest outside JPL in Pasadena, California against a US government mandate requiring all federal employees to received the Covid-19 vaccine.
Strict rules intended to push tens of millions of US workers into getting vaccinated against COVID-19 will come into effect on January 4, 2022, President Joe Biden’s administration announced November 4, 2021.
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

“There are times where we recognize that our decisions have a broader effect on people around us. COVID has reminded us of that, and that’s why having these types of requirements in work places will be not only helpful, it’s a necessary step to accelerate our pathway out of the pandemic.”

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