Abilene businesses awaiting further instructions regarding President Biden’s vaccine mandate

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Many companies around the Big Country with more than 100 employees say they are waiting for further instruction on what to do for mandating vaccines. 

President Biden plans to issue a mandate as part of his most aggressive push for inoculations, but it has yet to go into effect. 

“We’re waiting on OSHA,” said Abilene Teachers Federal Credit Union Marketing Director Kathy Mayer. 

“We’re just going have to wait to see what it is,” said Taylor County Judge Downing Bolls. 

“I have not seen anything from the White House or the Department of Labor,” said Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams. 

Last week president Biden announced plans for a vaccine mandate or weekly testing for companies who employ more than 100 people. 

“What more is there to wait for, what more is there to see?” said President Biden.  

Local businesses and city governments in Texas are now in limbo.  

“Part of what our dilemma is as the county is that we, of course, are a subdivision of the state,” said Judge Bolls. 

Bolls says they are required to enforce the rules of Governor Greg Abbott.  

“The Governor has given his orders and indications on how he wants to handle this latest COVID surge, so we’re following his directives,” said Bolls. 

That directive blocks judges or local municipalities from mandating mask wearing, social distancing, or vaccines.  

“We are a federal union, which means we would fall under federal guidelines. I think those are probably going to trump state guidelines,” said Mayer. 

Mayer says while the union is not in favor of a mandate, they are willing to comply once they get more direction from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

Meanwhile, Mayor Williams is still not in favor of a city employee mandate. 

“My stance has not changed, I don’t support a mandate,” said Mayor Williams.  

Mayor Williams has been vocal on encouraging residents to get their shot. 

“I just hate seeing this come to a partisan type issue, or even situation where it’s vaccinated versus unvaccinated,” said Mayor Williams. 

He also says he thinks getting the vaccine is up to residents’ personal responsibility. 

All the universities in Abilene, Wylie and Abilene independent school districts, and other major companies in town, such as United, say they are all waiting for further guidance, including the city and county, which will come when OSHA decides to make a rule based on Biden’s request.

Hendrick Health issued the following statement saying: 

“Although details have yet to be released, Hendrick health believes it will be subject to new federal rules under president Biden’s COVID-19 action plan, including those developed by OSHA and those applicable to hospitals that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Hendrick health plans to comply with OSHA rules and the new healthcare worker vaccine mandate, as well as ensure that our staff is fully vaccinated unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption. We expect more details to be released in October, including the specific deadline for compliance. We continue to see the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine and believe vaccination is the best path out of this pandemic.” 

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