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Utah leaders with mixed reactions to President Biden’s new COVID-19 plan

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Salt Lake City, Utah — Thursday afternoon President Joe Biden announced a new six-pronged plan to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the president’s plan, businesses with more than 100 employees would need to either mandate the vaccine or require a minimum of weekly testing for employees.

Governor Spencer Cox and several other Utah lawmakers responded to the president’s plan immediately.

“Getting vaccinated is the single most important thing people can do right now to protect ourselves and our community and reduce the spread of the Delta variant. While we support efforts that encourage vaccinations, we have serious concerns about the legality of the order,” a statement from the governor’s office read.

According to Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, “Regardless of where you stand on vaccinations overall, the federal government should not be able to mandate such a personal medical decision to employers and individuals.”

President Biden calling it a pandemic of the unvaccinated said, this new approach will help get America out of the pandemic.

“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.

According to Spencer D. Phillips, Attorney Employer-Lawyer, the question of legality should be answered soon.

“I think those legal challenges are going to be filed the same day the rule becomes effective, and I think the courts are going to turn their utmost attention to this and give us an answer right away,” he said.

There are more than two thousand Utah businesses with more than 100 employees, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

With around 500 employees Rancho Market is one of those, C.O.O. Richard Harwood said.

Rancho Market has obeyed all the COVID-19 laws so far, he said. According to Harwood, right now, masks are welcomed but not required, and vaccines are encouraged but not mandated.

“Our official philosophy is we keep and obey and sustain the law. So, as the mandates have come out, we have applied them all,” he said.

About the president’s announcement, Harwood said “A mandate like that needs to be tested, this is an untested mandate, and I am not sure how legal it is. And our official position remains the same, if it is legal, we will comply”.

According to Spencer D. Phillips, there are still many questions to be answered. “I think there is a really good chance there is going to be a federal judge somewhere who is going to say this is an overreach, this is unconstitutional and then it will have to make its way up through the court of appeals and possibly to the supreme court before we get a definite answer whether this is something, he can even do in the first place,” he said.

According to Harwood , vaccines are a decision that should be made between a person and their doctor. “Personally, I am vaccinated. Have been since virtually day one. We encourage everyone else to be vaccinated but that is a personal choice,” he said. Adding Rancho Market has offered vaccine clinics almost weekly.

 

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