Pennsylvania Businesses Give Mixed Reaction to Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

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Pennsylvania businesses have mixed opinions about President Joe Biden’s mandate that employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or submit to a weekly COVID-19 test.

Sam Denisob, vice president of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, was in meetings much of Friday discussing the mandate.

“We are carefully reviewing the details of that mandate and ramping up to let our members understand what came down and what flexibility they will have,” Denisob told The Epoch Times in a phone conversation. “I suspect this will get challenged in the courts. It’s evolving and our membership is quite diverse. We have to get an understanding of what it means for each one.”

Many companies said they were still analyzing and not prepared to speak about the new rule.

“We are looking into the legality of what the president is proposing. We believe that it violates a number of federal laws. Other than that, it’s too early for us to make an informed comment,” Jodi DePorter, Director of Marketing at Kahr Firearms Group in Pike County told The Epoch Times in an email.

Doug Henry, owner and CEO of Henry Molder Products in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, says his company doesn’t have a current policy relating to vaccinations and he questions how Biden has authority to impose such a rule. “He’s way out of bounds,” Henry told The Epoch Times in a phone interview. “I’m not comfortable being in the position of being an agent of enforcement for the federal government. I don’t think they are empowered to do this. I’ve been exposed to plenty of governmental requirements, but this goes beyond anything I’ve been exposed to in the past. My expectation is that I will not mandate employees to be vaccinated.”

Davis Landscape, a Harrisburg-based company serving the east coast, employs over 400 people and has had a plan in place for responding to COVID-19. Many Davis Landscape employees are vaccinated and anyone who has symptoms is sent to get tested. Each test costs the company $45.

“If I lose an employee for a week, it’s a lot more than 45 bucks,” Bill Phillips Sr., director of fleet and safety told The Epoch Time in a phone interview.

Since April 2020, the company has had 44 employees test positive for COVID. One was very sick and was off for many months.

Workers have exposed each other when traveling in trucks together, Phillips said. One worker was asymptomatic but got a positive COVID-19 test. The worker had been in a truck for four hours with three other unvaccinated workers. They all got sick.

In another case, one worker had COVID-19 but the other three were vaccinated. The three vaccinated workers did not get sick.

One Davis Landscape district manager insisted all his workers get vaccinated and the company has seen far few sick days from that district, Phillips said. He is convinced the vaccine works.
When vaccines became available, Phillips arranged for free vaccinations in the office and he has another opportunity panned for employees to get vaccinated at work.

The company has now received letters from clients saying the clients will require everyone working on their property to get vaccinated.

Some employees have said they will not get the shot.

“I know it is going to be challenging,” Phillips said. “I have to abide by my clients’ wishes. Especially places that serve food. I believe it’s going to come to this. Schools have long mandated you have a vaccine to register for classes. I see no reason COVID won’t eventually fall into that spectrum. There are too many people who think it’s OK to take a horse dewormer rather than a vaccine.”

But he says testing every week is not practical.

“Ultimately,” Phillips said, “If OSHA mandates it, then we will say, OK, if you don’t want the vaccine, you will have to pay for the test.”

David N. Taylor, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, agrees that vaccines work. He had COVID-19, got the vaccine, and recommends people talk with their doctor and get it cleared by their doctor. His objection to the mandate is not about the vaccine.

“The idea that the federal government can order individuals to take certain medications is wildly unconstitutional. If allowed to stand, it would really remake the relationship between the citizens and the state. It would render us subjects rather than citizens and that is unamerican,” Taylor told the Epoch Times in a phone interview. “It goes well beyond whether getting a vaccine is a good idea. This is about, does the executive branch of the federal government have the authority to order citizens to take specific medications? These are things individuals should be able to decide themselves. But the idea that the state can compel you, against your wishes—that the president can get up one day and say ‘this is how it is’—this is new, and unacceptable. It is deeply offensive and must not be allowed to come to pass.”’

Beth Brelje

Beth Brelje is an investigative journalist covering Pennsylvania politics, courts, and the commonwealth’s most interesting and sometimes hidden news.

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