SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A new mandate from the labor department will require Americans who work at medium and large businesses to be vaccinated or face weekly testing for COVID-19.
That directive goes into effect in under two months.
“Actions announced by the president are designed to save lives,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre.
A mandate from the White House beginning January 4, employees at companies with at least 100 workers will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested weekly.
Eyewitness News spoke with a local cashier who says she is all for the idea.
“I think they should be vaccinated. I have my third. I have my booster and think everyone in the grocery industry should be vaccinated,” said Kathy Labukas, who is a cashier at Gerrity’s.
But employers say this puts them in a difficult position in a time when they just can’t afford to lose employees.
“Our people are tired. They’re exhausted. We have so many people that just plowed right through the pandemic and, of course, in the beginning, it was so busy. It was overwhelming. They worked so many hours and they are still working a lot of hours. There are people here who are constantly working on overtime. Our salary people are 6 and 7 days. We’re compensating them, but they’re tired. They’re so tired. To think we might lose more employees and not be able to service our customers properly it’s just so frustrating and exhausting,” said Gerrity’s co-owner Joe Fasula.
Employers who do not follow the new policy could face fines of up to $14,000 per employee.
“That is a fine we just couldn’t absorb. Even if we didn’t want to, we would have to comply,” said Fasula.
Gerrity’s is looking into the legality of the new mandate. If their findings show it is legal, Fasula says he will comply.
A poll from September found roughly 6 out of 10 American adults are in favor of vaccine mandates for federal workers, employees of large companies, and workers at hospitals that receive federal healthcare funds.