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Presidential vaccination mandate will affect thousands of St. Joseph workers

The presidential order requires workers in businesses of 100 employees or more to get vaccinated or weekly Covid-19 tests.

Posted: Sep 9, 2021 11:07 PM
Updated: Sep 10, 2021 9:54 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) -- President Joe Biden took his battle to vaccinate Americans straight into the workforce.

"All employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated," Biden said during a national address Thursday afternoon. 

The president said that covers around 80 million people nationally. It also includes thousands of people in St. Joseph, even though there are only between 60-80 businesses in the city that employ more than 100 people.

"That's a relatively small number of employers, but probably I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't close to 70 percent of the workforce," said Patt Lilly, president of the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce.

Those businesses include Mosaic Life Care, Triumph Foods and the City of St. Joseph, well known to be among the largest employers in the community. But it also includes retailers like Walmart and Hy-Vee. Lilly said he thinks some of those businesses will actually welcome the leverage a federal mandate brings.

"I think most employers that I've spoken with I think would like to see people take the vaccine," Lilly said. "That has a lot to do with the realities of running a business. You can't run your business if you don't have the people there to do it."

Lilly added that the mandate could have the negative effect of people quitting jobs at some of the larger employers and taking jobs in smaller companies in an effort to dodge the vaccination mandate.

He added that this is just the latest challenge the pandemic has brought to entrepreneurs trying to run a successful business.

"Trying to success with employees being concerned with taking the vaccine, being concerned about coming back to work because of the pandemic, being concerned about issues with childcare. There are a lot of challenges facing employers today."

The requirement for big businesses to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing will be enacted through OSHA. Officials say employers who disregard the rule will be fined $14,000 per violation.

The White House has not said when the new order will take effect.

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Warm and breezy conditions continued today with highs making a run for the 90s. Winds will be a bit breezy at times with gusts up to 20 mph. Slightly cooler weather will start to push into the area on Wednesday with highs in the mid 80s. Most of the day will be dry, but a few isolated showers will be possible Wednesday afternoon into the evening. Rain chances will start to ramp up on Thursday with highs in the upper 70s. Scattered rain chances will continue on Friday through the weekend as highs remain in the 70s.
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