Ex-U.S. Health Officials Call for Companies to Adopt More Safety Rules
A bipartisan group of officials from the past five presidential administrations, along with public health experts, are pressuring private sector leaders to adopt a new set of recommendations to maximize coronavirus vaccination among their employees.
“You have a key role to play in our national quest to keep Americans safe, while respecting individual freedoms,” said an open letter from the group, asking companies to institute new workplace rules that would complement federal and local government actions to increase immunizations. against the booming Delta variant. Fully vaccinated people are protected from the worst consequences of Covid-19, including those caused by the Delta variant.
The letter recommends that private companies, which employ 124 million Americans, require their staff members to get vaccinated. Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission said employers could demand vaccinations, although companies that do so could still face lawsuits.
But he also recommends that companies take action if they choose not to require vaccination of their staff.
These include an “infection screening protocol”, which would require screenings twice a week through rapid tests. Anyone with proof of vaccination would be allowed to bypass these routine tests. The letter also recommends that companies offer incentives for employees to get vaccinated, including cash payments and paid time off.
“We recognize that any protocol creates a certain burden and costs for businesses and your employees,” the letter said. “Nonetheless, these will be relatively small compared to the significant cost of the ongoing disruption and uncertainty in business productivity and in people’s lives. “
The private sector initiative comes a week after President Biden sought to revive the nation’s stalled vaccination campaign with a new set of requirements for federal workers and a call for local governments to offer cash incentives.
Some of the country’s largest employers, like Disney and Tyson Foods, have imposed vaccines on their employees, while others like Google and Microsoft require proof of vaccination to return to the office.
The letter is signed by Jerome Adams, the surgeon general of President Donald J. Trump; Richard Carmona, the surgeon general of President George W. Bush; Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health for the Obama administration; Andy Slavitt, who served as senior advisor to the Covid response coordinator in the Biden administration; and Rosalynn Carter, the former first lady, among others.
The new private sector push is led by the Covid Collaborative, a bipartisan group of political and scientific leaders working on vaccine education, which has worked closely with the White House on the issue of vaccine reluctance. John Bridgeland, co-founder of Covid Collaborative, said the plan was to get 1,000 or more companies to act.
Companies like Accenture, Baptist Health, Kaiser Permanente, Tyson Foods, Live Nation and the Ad Council have signed up to support what the group is calling #CovidSafeZones, with other large employers expected to join in the coming days.
“We recognize that there is momentum for collective action, so no company feels at a disadvantage and the impact of these steps is maximized,” the letter says. “We believe that if you take visible action, many more will follow.”
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