Vaccine mandate leaves 4,800 Minnesota businesses scrambling

The new mandate will impact an estimated 4,800 businesses and 1.4 million workers in Minnesota.

President Joe Biden (White House/Flickr)

(The Center Square) — Minnesota businesses are rushing to figure out the impact of new COVID-19 rules President Joe Biden announced Thursday that could affect 100 million Americans.

The mandate requires all federal workers and contractors to get vaccinated, with limited exceptions. Biden said the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees to vaccinate employees or test them weekly.

Biden announced he would require health care workers at facilities receiving funds from Medicare and Medicaid to be fully vaccinated.

The new rule walks back Biden’s previous promises. On July 23, Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki said a national vaccine mandate “is not the role of the federal government.”

Hours after Biden’s announcement on Thursday, the Republican National Committee said it plans to sue over the rule.

Gov. Tim Walz’s office hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove said the rule would affect 4,800 businesses and 1.4 million Minnesota workers.

Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, opposed the rule.

“President Biden’s mandates are simply ridiculous and unreasonable,” Miller said in a statement. “As businesses continue to bounce back from the pandemic, there is already a struggle to find enough workers and these mandates will make it even more difficult for businesses and the economy to fully recover.”

The Minnesota Nurses Association said they support voluntary vaccination programs and warned the vaccine mandate “will continue to exacerbate staffing shortages.”

“After years of deliberate under staffing, increasing threats of workplace violence and lack of autonomy over their profession, the same healthcare workers who have been caring for us in our darkest hours are exhausted and leaving the profession early or for less demanding work. We question the timing of the impending vaccine mandates and believe these mandates will continue to exacerbate staffing shortages.”

Minnesota Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Doug Loon said the rule will add an “administrative burden” to employers.

“As the Delta variant continues to spread, businesses are navigating a quickly-changing landscape as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Loon said in a statement.

“Their paramount concern is the health and safety of their employees and customers, and this will add administrative burden at a time when they ramp up activities and operations to meet market demand. Employers must have the autonomy to make decisions that are appropriate for their workplace and responsive to workplace needs. We continue to advocate our longstanding position that government should not unreasonably interfere.”