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Businesses prepare for President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate

Posted at 11:27 AM, Nov 22, 2021

LANSING, Mich. — Sparrow Hospital has not yet implemented a vaccine mandate for its workers but that will change when the hospital complies with President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate.

Workers will need to get vaccinated by Jan. 4 or face weekly testing.

“We were very reluctant to make rules that made it so that our support staff and our front line staff might not want to be with us anymore," said Karen Kent, chief medical and quality officer of Sparrow Health System. "We’ll be complying, of course with the federal mandates.”

Biden's vaccine mandate applies to roughly 500,000 public sector employees in Michigan. Another 2 million Michigan workers are subject to the mandate because they work for firms with more than 100 employees.

“At the end of the day, our mission is to take care of the community. We are here to take care of people when they need us most. Our patients and sometimes our caregivers become our patients, of course," Kent said. "So what we're trying to do is protect the most number of people.”

For months, state and federal agencies have worked to make Biden's guidelines for businesses and employees clear. The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration said that the agency is still reviewing the federal requirement but, "intends to adopt the identical rules and requirements" as the federal government's emergency temporary standard.

A statewide group called the Listen to MI Business Coalition asked Biden to reconsider the mandate last month, saying employers shouldn't be responsible for carrying the weight of what they called a "one-size-fits-all mandate."

"I think there's a large sense of frustration out there on the part of the employers and it's really not about being anti-vaccine it's about being anti-mandate," said Wendy Block, vice president of business advocacy for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

Kent said she hopes members of the Sparrow community get vaccinated instead of leaving.

“We always have contingency plans. However you can only hire people so quickly and we’re hoping that caregivers decide that they want to be the safest, they can be realized that the vaccines are safe for them and safe for their loved ones and go ahead and get vaccinated," she said.

Michigan has led the nation in new COVID cases per capita over the past week.

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Tianna Jenkins

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