LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In a stunning announcement Thursday, President Biden rolled out his newest effort to fight COVID-19. Companies with more than 100 employees must either require vaccinations or weekly COVID testing.
Kentucky employers like Humana, Baptist Health and UofL Health have already rolled out requirements for at least some of their workers. But many medium-sized companies have held off, something they can't do anymore under this new rule.
"I would be reluctant to impose a mandate on anybody," Frank Wilson, President of Bardstown-based Wilson and Muir bank.
Wilson and Muir bank employs close to 150 people across several branches, most of them vaccinated. Wilson still isn't sure how the new mandate will impact the rest.
"We're wondering if it applies to the entire organization or if it's a workplace, all under one roof," he said.
Legal experts have questions too, including how quickly the mandate will face almost certain legal challenges.
"Ultimately you've got the global pandemic and how it can affect everyone versus individual liberties and decisions," employment attorney Brad Zoppoth said.
Zoppoth says a 1905 ruling upheld states authority to mandate vaccines, and he thinks the legal road forward is rooted in the rights of those states.
"The police power of the states to decide whether they're going to force people to get the vaccine," he said.
At Wilson and Muir, incentives have worked better than a mandate. Wilson anticipates weekly testing will be a burden.
"I certainly understand the federal government requiring it, I understand why the military felt they needed to do it, but I was surprised that it went to far as to require organization with 100 people or more," he said.
That burden could present another legal challenge too.
"Whose going to pay for testing? Is it the company? Is it the employees?" Zoppoth said.
Companies will also have to pay employees for time off to get vaccinated, a cost that could be cheaper, than the $14,000 fine for shirking the rule.