AMA pledges support for OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS
Chicago — Contending that COVID-19 vaccines are critical to protect workers and ease the pandemic’s strain on the U.S. health care system, the American Medical Association is offering its support for OSHA’s emergency temporary standard on COVID-19 vaccination, testing and masking.
In a letter dated Dec. 6 and addressed to OSHA administrator Doug Parker, AMA CEO and Executive Vice President James L. Madara writes that the “fastest and most direct path out of this pandemic is through vaccination” and calls on all eligible individuals to get vaccinated.
“With millions of Americans returning to the workplace, we strongly support OSHA’s vaccination and testing ETS as an important tool to help ensure the health and safety of employees and bolster vaccination rates across the country,” writes Madara, whose organization is made up of more than 190 state and specialty medical societies along with other various health care stakeholders. “We believe that actions that ultimately result in increased vaccination rates, such as employer vaccine mandates, will help ease the significant burdens felt by our health care workers and help to ensure inpatient admissions are at manageable levels that can allow broad access to care for COVID and non-COVID patients alike.”
Since OSHA published the ETS in the Nov. 5 Federal Register, the rule has faced a mountain of legal challenges. At the moment, the ETS is in limbo after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on Nov. 12. The agency has suspended implementation and enforcement of the ETS but is accepting public comment until Jan. 19.
The Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit Court will soon consider a consolidated challenge to the ETS after 27 petitions for review were filed in 12 appeals courts across the country.
OSHA initially set a Dec. 5 deadline for covered employers with more than 100 employees to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy – or provide a policy that gives workers the choice to be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
Covered employees had an initial deadline of Jan. 4 to become fully vaccinated, or begin weekly testing and wear a face covering while indoors or in a vehicle “with another person for work purposes.”