Vaccination and Testing Mandates in RI

"If I'd known that the roaring 20s were going to be two weeks in June, I would have done more". - Anonymous
This was going to be the summer where it all turned around. Cookouts, movies, vacations, the works. As it stands now, that was not much more than wishful thinking. Instead of most of the nation being vaccinated and achieving herd immunity, we are again locked in yet another pandemic wave, principally one of our own making. Maybe, just maybe, we could have made it work with the current U.S. (full) vaccination rate of 54.2%, but the even more infectious Delta variant (twice the rate of the original Alpha strain) has made that impossible. Add to that the fact that the rate of hospitalization (for the unvaccinated) is 60% greater, and it's clear that we are back in the COVID weeds once again.
Although the general consensus is that a sufficient percentage of the U.S. population has been vaccinated, thus allowing us to avoid another lockdown, the rapid spread of the Delta variant here in the U.S. and abroad will continue to create conditions that could threaten the U.S. economy.
In light of these numbers, and the continued hesitancy of many to be vaccinated, the current administration in Washington has decided to act.
On Thursday of last week, President Biden unveiled a series of steps to combat the newly surging pandemic, including the announcement of a forthcoming federal rule that all businesses with 100 or more employees have to ensure that every worker is either vaccinated for COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing for the coronavirus.
The new emergency rule, issued by OSHA, covers the private sector, which applies to 80 million workers. In Rhode Island, this impacts 536 companies with 186,000 workers.
The effort, "Path Out Of the Pandemic", is focused on vaccinating the unvaccinated. A major component of the plan is directed at the workforce. This includes:
  • Requiring all employers with 100+ employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly
  • Requiring vaccinations for all federal workers and for millions of contractors that do business with the federal government
  • Requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for over 17 million health care workers at medicare and medicaid participating hospitals and other health care settings
  • Calling on large entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or testing for entry, and
  • Requiring employers to provide paid time off to get vaccinated
The expected pushback against the mandates by GOP governors and the RNC was immediate. However, according to an article in the Washington Post, the legal ground that the challenges stand on is shaky at best, in light of a century of supreme Court precedent.
The smart money is on mandates and testing. Especially in light of the offer of weekly testing as an alternative to vaccination.
As with any major policy rollout, the devil will be in the details. That's where the professionals at Available Staffing Network come in. We are standing by to answer any questions you may have and guide you to ensure you are in complete compliance. Just give us a call - we would love to talk with you.