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Biden vax-test mandate covers government workers in Michigan

President-elect Joe Biden takes off his mask before laying out his proposal for a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Jan. 14.
President-elect Joe Biden takes off his mask before laying out his proposal for a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Jan. 14.

Michigan’s private and public employers with 100 or more workers must require them to get fully vaccinated by Jan. 4. 

The Biden administration’s requirement that many private-sector workers be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or, if their employers allow it, get tested weekly also applies to many of the roughly 586,000 government employees in Michigan.

That is because Michigan is one of 26 states to operate and enforce workplace safety rules instead of the U.S. government. Federal law requires those states with Occupational Safety and Health Administration-approved plans to cover state and local government workers, including school employees.

“Coverage of the public-sector employees in state plans like Michigan is one of the great advantages of having a state plan. In federal OSHA states, the public-sector employees do not have any OSHA protection,” said Jason Moon, a spokesman for the state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

Michigan’s private and public employers with 100 or more workers must require them to get fully vaccinated by Jan. 4. Employers can instead adopt a policy mandating employees to either get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. Unvaccinated workers also must wear masks starting no later than Dec. 5.

“Our members, by and large, have seen that it is not exactly a vaccine mandate. So they’re looking to what the testing protocols might look like for employees that opt out and things like that,” said Peter Spadafore, deputy executive director for external relations at the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators. “But we know at the association that the science points us toward vaccination and testing and masking being some of most effective tools to prevent the spread.”

A federal appeals court over the weekend paused the regulation from taking effect. The White House has expressed confidence that it can withstand legal challenges.

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