Summary: New Federal COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements,
Programs Aimed At Responding to Rising National Infection Rates
In response to resurgent incidents of COVID-19 across the country, yesterday the President outlined a series of new requirements and programs aimed at increasing rates of vaccination and controlling the fallout from new infections. These requirements will impact most 495/MetroWest Partnership stakeholders, in particular entities with 100 or more employees.
New Vaccination Requirements
Requiring All Employers with 100+ Employees to Ensure their Workers are Vaccinated or Tested Weekly: The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to implement this requirement. The 495/MetroWest Partnership will distribute the text of this new standard to our stakeholders once it is published.
Requiring COVID-19 Vaccinations for Health Care Workers at Medicare and Medicaid Participating Hospitals and Other Health Care Settings: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking action to require COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most health care settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, including but not limited to hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies. This action builds on the vaccination requirement for nursing facilities recently announced by CMS, and will apply to nursing home staff as well as staff in hospitals and other CMS-regulated settings, including clinical staff, individuals providing services under arrangements, volunteers, and staff who are not involved in direct patient, resident, or client care.
Requiring Employers to Provide Paid Time Off to Get Vaccinated: OSHA is developing a rule that will require employers with more than 100 employees to provide paid time off for the time it takes for workers to get vaccinated or to recover if they feel ill post-vaccination. This requirement will be implemented through the ETS.
Increasing Testing and Masking
Mobilizing Industry to Expand Easy-to-Use Testing Production: Using authorities of the Defense Production Act and through the procurement of nearly $2 billion in rapid point-of-care and over-the-counter at-home COVID tests from multiple COVID-19 test manufacturers, the Administration intends to increase industrial capacity for COVID-19 test manufacturing.
Continuing to Require Masking for Interstate Travel and Double Fines: A previous Executive Order had directed applicable agencies to take action to require mask-wearing in airports and on certain modes of public transportation, including on many airplanes, trains, maritime vessels, and intercity bus services. TSA has extended its implementing orders for air and ground travel through January 18th, 2022, and will double fines for those who are not in compliance.
Continue to Require Masking on Federal Property: The President will extend an existing Executive Order requiring masks and specific physical distancing requirements in federal buildings, on federal lands, on military bases, and other overseas locations, consistent with CDC guidance.
New Business Support Programming
SBA Initiatives for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19: The Small Business Administration (SBA) will increase the maximum amount of funding a small business can borrow through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program from $500,000 to $2 million, which can be used to hire and retain employees, purchase inventory and equipment, and pay off higher-interest debt. SBA will not require small businesses to start repaying these loans until two years after they receive the funding. SBA will offer a 30-day exclusive window of access where only small businesses seeking loans of $500,000 or less will receive awards after the new improved loan product launches.
Streamlining the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Process: On August 4th the SBA announced a new streamlined PPP loan forgiveness process. SBA now sends a pre-completed application form to the borrower who can review, sign, and send back to SBA, which then works with the lender to complete the forgiveness process.
Increasing Support for COVID-Burdened Hospitals: The Department of Defense will double the number of DOD teams of clinicians deployed to support hospitals battling a surge in COVID-19 cases. These clinicians will be available for mission assignment through FEMA’s response across surge states.
Further elements of the President’s announcement include information regarding booster shots, school openings and safety, and additional items related to masking and testing.
The 495/MetroWest Partnership will distribute new OSHA rules pertaining to entities with 100 or more employees as soon as they become available.