Celebration and concern in Oklahoma over President Biden’s new COVID-19 vaccine plan

Coronavirus

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – President Biden’s plan to get more Americans vaccinated was met with both support and backlash. That plan requires employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or have workers tested weekly.

“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said.

Some of that backlash is coming from the State Chamber of Commerce. They oppose the President’s plan.

In the meantime, a 21-year labor and employment attorney told KFOR that opinions on both sides are strong.

“I think it’s going to remain an issue, and it’s going to remain a divisive issue within the workplace,” said Mary Snyder with Crowe & Dunlevy Attorney.

President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room at the White House, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Washington. Biden is announcing sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The President announced Thursday evening that OSHA would require employers with more than 100 workers to get vaccinated or tested weekly.

The announcement is causing concern for the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors.

“First thing I thought of was empty work zones, and that scared me not only for our companies but for the traveling public,” said Bobby Stem with the Executive Director of Association Oklahoma of General Contractors. “If you take a crew of 50 and use 10 to 15 percent of it, that crew can no longer work on that road or bridge because everybody is critical to that mission.”

The trade group told KFOR highway workers are forced to vaccinate or get weekly covid tests, and many will leave the job. This could be devastating with the current shortage of contractors, according to Stem.

“Employers, if this mandate goes into effect, employers that have more than 100 employees will be required to do that,” said Snyder.

Gov. Kevin Stitt quickly attacked Biden’s plan, releasing the below statement soon after the president spoke:

“It is not the government’s role to dictate to private businesses what to do. Once again, President Biden is demonstrating his complete disregard for individual freedoms and states’ rights. As long as I am governor, there will be no government vaccine mandates in Oklahoma. My administration will continue to defend Oklahoma values and fight back against the Biden administration’s federal overreach.”

GOV. KEVIN STITT

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor announced litigation plans in the following statement:

“We respect the right of Oklahoma businesses and individuals to make healthcare decisions for themselves and their families. My office will vigorously oppose any attempt by the federal government to mandate vaccines. We are preparing litigation to stand up for our rights and defend the rule of law against the overreach of the federal government.”

JOHN O’CONNOR, OKLAHOMA ATTORNEY GENERAL

But not everyone is against the new plan, according to Snyder.

“Many out there will like to see 100 percent vaccinated workplaces,” said Snyder.

Biden said in a video statement that some of the nation’s biggest companies, including United Airlines, Disney and Tyson Foods, require vaccinations.

But that isn’t stopping many states threatening to sue to stop the emergency temporary standard once it is put in place.

“I don’t think this is going away anytime soon,” said Snyder. “I meant that the contractors, the healthcare providers, President Biden issued an executive order there so tied to spending powers, so those folks are already having to deal with this.”

President Biden is even taking it a step further. TSA will now double fines if you refuse to wear a mask.

Continued Coronavirus Coverage

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