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Biden announces a vaccine mandate affecting 80 million workers

All businesses with more than 100 employees will have to require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test every week

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — President Biden announced Thursday all companies with more than 100 employees must require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test every week.

Biden said this will affect the 80 million Americans who have not yet been vaccinated. A deadline of when these private company employees must show proof has yet to be announced. 

The Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce said it's unsure how many Memphis businesses will be impacted.

“It’s too early to say how the latest mandate will affect Memphis businesses, but the Greater Memphis Chamber is closely monitoring this developing situation and will provide updates to the business community as they become available," the Greater Memphis Chamber said. "We will be listening to our businesses and leaning on our subject-matter experts as we seek to understand the implications.”

Monogram Food's CEO Karl Schledwitz said the new rule announced by the President levels the playing field for companies, like his, struggling to keep jobs filled. 

"We have considered it and the only reason we haven’t implemented it is for fear that too many of our employees would go across the street somewhere else and get a comparable job when we’re having trouble filling," Schledwitz said. 

His company has around 4,000 employees in six states and he said only 50% have been vaccinated. Schledwitz hopes this mandate will boost that number. 

 "We didn’t have the nerve to try to do it on our own, but we are glad if everybody has to do it it makes it a lot easier for us," Schledwitz said. 

Employment law attorney Alan Crone said this requirement, which follows a rule under the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is likely to face challenges. 

 "This particular rule is not a health and safety measure in the sense that it was done for pandemics," Crone said. "It was done to remove things like asbestos or other harmful materials in workplaces not as a vaccine mandate." 

While the courts will decide if the President overstepped his power, in the meantime, Crone said you likely won't have to show proof to your employer just yet. 

 "This particular rule is only good for six months, so it may be that it gets stayed by the courts and four or five months later the court makes a decision," Crone said. "If it’s not implemented immediately it’s probably going to become moot."