East Texas Businesses Waiting On Direction To Take About COVID-19 Vaccines, Testing Mandates

Businesses in East Texas cannot decide yet regarding COVID-19 vaccines and testing mandates. This comes after the Biden administration announced that companies with 100 or more employees have the choice of ordering their employees to get vaccinated or get tested every week.

The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is expected to issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) soon. Until then, East Texas businesses will not make further comments on the possible impact of the federal mandate.

One Company Will Not Issue COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates Yet

Longview News-Journal reported that Kristin Parker, the spokeswoman for Eastman Chemical Co. Eastman’s Texas Operations, which employs almost 1,500 people, said that until OSHA releases the ETS, they will not make any move or comment on COVID-19 vaccine mandates yet. Longview News-Journal quoted Parker saying, “We continue to encourage vaccination as the safest and most effective way to prevent complications and hospitalization from COVID-19, and we continue to see the percentages of fully vaccinated team members increase company-wide, including in Longview. We have held onsite vaccination clinics and have offered several educational opportunities for our team members to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines to help them make their decision.”

Further, once the ETS gets issued, they will gather all relevant information and determine what the new rules may mean for their company and team members throughout the United States.

Tyler-based Brookshire Grocery Co. also said that they are now evaluating the pieces of the puzzle. Because they are an important business during the pandemic, their top priority is the health and safety of their employees, customers, and communities. Tyler Pipe General Manager Greg Simmons echoed the same sentiments of Brookshire Grocery Co.

Longview Regional Medical Center likewise does not mandate their employees to get COVID-19 vaccines, but they require everyone in a health care setting to use face masks.

East Texas Businesses Waiting On Direction To Take About COVID-19 Vaccines, Testing Mandates
Image Credit: KETK NBC/YouTube screencap

Possible Federal COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate VS Abbott’s Executive Order

The possible federal-issued COVID-19 vaccine mandate for companies with 100 or more employees will go against Governor Greg Abbott’s executive order. Abbott banned any entity from issuing vaccine mandates for employees or consumers earlier this October.

Longview Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kelly Hall noted that it would be confusing what to follow once OSHA releases the ETS. She said that she believes in the supremacy clause of the constitution of the United States, which gives federal law more authority over state laws.