Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday that he supports President Joe Biden's executive order that mandates employers with more than 100 workers to require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or test negative for the virus each week as a condition of employment.
''I'm grateful that the Biden Administration is taking strong steps to protect the public,'' Wolf, a Democrat, said in a Washington Examiner story Monday. ''I strongly support the efforts at the federal level to prioritize vaccinations, which further support my administration's efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 — efforts that are working.''
Biden announced the mandates in a Sept. 9 speech to the nation where he blamed the recent surge of the delta variant of COVID-19 on those hesitant to take one of the three available vaccines for the virus.
''Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective and free,'' Biden said in his speech. ''The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals, are overrunning the emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack, or pancreatitis, or cancer.''
To get more people vaccinated, Biden said he signed an order to allow the Department of Labor to require vaccinations or negative weekly tests from workers at private firms with 100 or more employees.
''I'm announcing that the Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees, that together employ over 80 million workers, to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week,'' he said.
''The bottom line: We're going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers. We're going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America.''
He said firms that do not comply with the order will face fines of $14,000 per violation.
''Pennsylvanians understand that the best way to fight this virus is through vaccinations, and the president's announcement will further increase our vaccination rates and keep everyone safe,'' Wolf said.
Republican lawmakers in the state, however, say the mandates are unconstitutional and will hurt the economy.
Retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey issued a statement saying that while he supports the vaccines and people getting vaccinated, he opposes a federal mandate.
"But federal government mandates, of dubious legality, will further alienate the skeptical, undermine our institutions, and punish ordinary business owners and their employees,'' Toomey said.
Rep. Fred Keller, R-Pa., vowed to fight Biden on the mandates, saying that people should make their own medical decisions.
''Joe Biden's federal vaccine mandate not only contradicts his previous assurances — it infringes on the most basic freedoms of America's workers and employers to make their own health decisions regarding vaccination.
''This administration is trampling on the rights of 80 million private sector workers and weaponizing the federal bureaucracy to impose government-sanctioned workplace discrimination on the basis of vaccination status,'' he said in a statement Friday.
''As the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, I will fight these totalitarian measures through all available means. The federal government has no authority to dictate who is permitted to have a job, and Biden's efforts to strong-arm employers into compliance will not stand.''
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