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Sat, Sept. 25

Column: Some Verde Valley workers may be forced to get COVID-19 vaccine, what are your thoughts?

(Independent stock photo)

(Independent stock photo)

President Joe Biden decided to go “all in” this week, requiring not only all federal employees, but businesses across the country with more than 100 employees, to either get vaccinated or regularly tested for COVID-19.

The recent executive orders laid out by Biden on Thursday could directly affect Verde Valley workers.

Off the top of my head, U.S. Post Office staff, Walmart staff, Home Depot staff, Salt River Materials Group staff, school district employees, police and fire departments, City of Cottonwood employees, Yavapai County workers and potentially grocery store staff members are just a few I could think of.

There are certainly more, or less.

It is a bold move by Biden, for sure, considering half the country (it feels like) has no plans on getting a COVID-19 vaccination, or even to wear a mask in public for that matter.

Every vote counts, as we saw in the 2020 election.

So what were the executive orders issued by Biden on Thursday? Let’s take a look:

• The U.S.’ Department of Labor Emergency Temporary Standard is now telling employers with more than 100 workers to require vaccination or weekly testing;

• Department of Labor rule now requires employers with more than 100 people to provide paid time off for vaccinations;

• All federal employees are to get vaccinated within 75 days or risk termination;

• Now require Medicare and Medicaid funding recipients to fully vaccinate their staff;

• Schools need to set up regular testing based on community spread; and

• Plans to expand free COVID-19 testing.

You can be sure our news team at the Independent will start talking with local companies and the workers affected by these executive orders. I can already say, however, there’s going to be a lot of unhappy people, based on some of the reaction I’ve seen to a few of my recent COVID-19 columns.

But maybe not? Maybe this will be just what is needed to get people on board with protecting everyone against COVID-19?

It’s hard to say.

Yavapai County Community Health Services reported 284 new COVID-19 cases this week with six new deaths. And from May 1 through Sept. 10, there were 5,281 positive COVID-19 tests of people ages 13 and older, 4,717 of them, or 89%, were unvaccinated.

In addition, of the 478 people hospitalized during the same timeframe, 428 of them were not vaccinated (89.5%) and of the 75 deaths we’ve had in this county since May 1, 70 were unvaccinated.

Despite those numbers not only in our county, but similarly in the state of Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey said Friday that Biden is “overreaching” with the new requirements.

“This requires push back and response, and that’s what the state of Arizona is going to do,” Ducey told reporters after speaking at the opening of a sports book in downtown Phoenix. “There’s more to follow on what that’s going to be.”

Ducey has aggressively worked to block mandates of all kinds when it comes to masking up, or getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Biden challenged Republicans to test his new vaccine requirements in court Friday.

“Have at it. Look, I am so disappointed that, particularly some of the Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities,” Biden said as he visited at Washington, D.C., middle school Friday.

We’ll see how things shake out. In the meantime, we at the Independent would love to hear from you on this matter! Please share with us your thoughts via email and we’ll print a few: editorial@verdenews.com.

Follow Brian M. Bergner Jr. on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud at @52MediaWorks. Email him at bbergner@verdenews.com, or call 928-634-2241, ext. 6033.

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