How the ‘Path out of the Pandemic’ plan impacts local industries

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 3:50 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2021 at 6:33 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - New vaccine guidance from the White House has many industries asking how they are impacted and what happens next.

In Central Virginia, the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce is helping members navigate through the Biden Administrations ‘Path out of the Pandemic,’ action plan.

According to the White House, The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work.

“It is a mix from, here we go again, we have more regulations on our industry to, I just need to know the answers to my questions, here are my concerns,” explained Danielle Fitz-Hugh, Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce CEO & President. ”I think every individual business concern is slightly different.”

Fitz Hugh said right now the situation appears to be evolving when it comes to a timeline of any mandates being implemented, but they opened up a President Biden’s “Path out of the Pandemic” Industry Questions form on their website. The Chesterfield Chamber is also in close contact with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“Each of our communities are trying to help our businesses stay compliant, that is our biggest thing, we are not trying to add the burden or stress of I don’t know if I can operate--I don’t know if I can keep my staff, I don’t know how I am going to pay for additional testing for my employees.” she explained. “We want to help them with that ‘I don’t know’.”

For the healthcare community, the plan lays out guidance that includes requiring COVID-19 Vaccinations for over 17 Million health care workers at Medicare and Medicaid facilities.

“We have said unequivocally that we support hospitals and health systems implementing rules or policies that would require hospital team members to be vaccinated and many health systems in Virginia have already done so,” explained Julian Walker with the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, “We support vaccination among the general public and we support vaccination among hospital and health care employees.”

HCA Healthcare is among the healthcare systems that have not required a vaccine at this point, but says it has encouraged vaccination.

“HCA Healthcare, our parent company, is reviewing the details of President Biden’s plan and will respond accordingly, just as we have in states in which we operate that have mandated vaccination. HCA Virginia hospitals help to ensure a safe environment by following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). While to this point we have not mandated that our colleagues receive the vaccination, our infectious disease experts have strongly encouraged vaccination as a critical step to protect individuals from the virus. Additionally, HCA Virginia follows guidance outlined by the CDC regarding protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in our facilities, including universal masking for all colleagues, patients, and visitors.”

Walker says there is an element of ‘wait and see,’ as the country waits for OSHA issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to implement requirements.

“There are some things that remain to be seen--there are still some details to be worked out to see what the formal guidance looks like, and there may be some potential legal considerations to come with respect to that,” he said.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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