That’s how many top university economists think the new COVID-19 vaccine mandate from the White House will speed up the country’s economic recovery, according to a recent survey.
Shortly after the new government requirements for large employers were first announced in September, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business asked 42 of the country’s leading experts whether they thought this kind of vaccine and testing mandate “would promote a faster and stronger economic recovery.” The response was unanimous: 74% said they “strongly” agreed, 26% agreed, and none disagreed or were uncertain. The group included professors from universities including Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, and Princeton.
The White House released a timeline for the new vaccine and testing mandate Thursday, saying employers of 100 or more people will have until Jan. 4 to implement the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements. Employees of these larger companies will either have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to tests for the virus weekly and wear a face mask at work. Notably, the mandate requires employers to pay for the time off needed to be vaccinated, but doesn’t require them to pay for the testing or masks (though other laws or union rules may.)
Previously announced vaccination requirements for health care providers and federal employees and contractors—rules that have no testing opt-out—will also take effect on Jan. 4, the White House said, changing the deadline from December for contractors and November for federal employees.
Despite the endorsement from academics, some employers oppose it on a practical level, no matter how well-intentioned. Complying with the mandate would be burdensome for merchants in the midst of an important holiday shopping season, the National Retail Federation, which represents a retail sector of 52 million workers, said Thursday. The American Trucking Associations has previously said it threatens to disrupt already strained supply chains. Some employers have also tried financial incentives to encourage vaccination instead of mandates, but there’s debate about how effective these are.
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