As Covid-19 numbers continue to spike, the Biden Administration announced plans via executive order (EO) to require employers with more than 100 workers to ensure they are vaccinated or test each unvaccinated employee for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. The emergency rule contemplated by the EO will have to be issued under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) existing statutory authority and will also require paid time off for vaccination or recovery from side effects post vaccination. In addition, the Administration’s executive orders also include making booster shots available for all eligible Americans who have already been vaccinated.
Other vaccine Executive Orders include:
- Requiring vaccinations for all Federal workers and contractors who do business with the Federal Government. There is no test out option.
- Requiring vaccinations for workers in most health care settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, including but not limited to hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies
The various requirements for employers are not immediate. OSHA will need some time to develop its emergency rule for businesses with over 100 employees to ensure every worker is fully vaccinated or tests negative on a weekly basis. There will of course be lawsuits against the orders. Many large employers have already established vaccine mandates.
For small businesses, the executive orders seek to strengthen the Covid Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which provides long-term, low-cost loans. The improvements will allow more business to get greater and more flexible support from the $150 billion in loanable funds still available in the program. First, the Small Business Administration (SBA) will increase the maximum amount of funding a small business can borrow through this program from $500,000 to $2 million, which can be used to hire and retain employees, purchase inventory and equipment, and pay off higher-interest debt. Loans will not have to start to be repaid until two years after funds were received. SBA will also make it easier for small businesses with multiple locations in hard-hit sectors like restaurants, hotels, and gyms to access these loans. There will be a 30-day exclusive window of access where only small businesses seeking loans of $500,000 or less will receive awards after the new improved loan product launches.