Why: On September 9, the White House announced plans for the President to sign a new executive order that would require all federal government employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. It has been reported that President Biden hopes similar policy will be adopted by state governments and private companies. Following this news, while over 150,000 new COVID-19 cases are being reported per day in the United States, Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. has assembled the latest state law requirements related to mask mandates, vaccine passports and employer liability.
Mask Mandate: As of September 8, of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories, 30 jurisdictions have some form of mask mandate in place, while 11 jurisdictions prohibit state or local governments from imposing mask mandates. 15 jurisdictions have no mask mandates, either because no mandate was imposed, or because a mandate was lifted or allowed to expire.
Vaccine Passport: In addition, as of September 8, 2021, 11 jurisdictions—American Samoa, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawai'i, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, and Puerto Rico—have implemented some form of a COVID-19 vaccine passport, allowing or requiring a person to show their vaccination status upon request. 22 jurisdictions have banned all or some proof of vaccination requirements. Of those 22 jurisdictions, 13 states have enacted legislation prohibiting proof of vaccination, while the other nine states have banned proof of vaccination through executive order, with most of the prohibitions applying only to government agencies. However, there are broader prohibitions in Texas and Florida, where private businesses are barred from requiring proof of vaccination.
Employer Liability: As of September 8, 2021, 40 U.S. jurisdictions have enacted legislation or issued an executive order imposing some limitations on liability for COVID-19 transmission. Perhaps the most common feature of shield laws is to provide a shield against liability for ordinary negligence and require that a plaintiff show gross negligence or intentional misconduct.
Cathleen Calhoun, J.D., is a health law legal analyst at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. with areas of expertise in health care compliance, Medicare benefits and coverage, health care reimbursement and more. Cathleen can give insight on the importance of keeping track of state law requirements and ways to keep employees safe, healthy and comfortable when returning back to office.
Pamela Wolf, J.D., is a senior employment legal analyst at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. who tracks and analyzes employment issues including White House and federal agency developments, federal regulations, court decisions, state and federal legislation, and labor and employment trends. Pamela can discuss the important steps and questions employers should consider when it comes to developing back to office COVID-19 policies and protocols for their employees.
"The rise of the delta variant of the coronavirus has caused an increase in mask mandates and a slowing or pause of back-to-office plans for many employers. From August to September 2021, the number of jurisdictions with some form of mask mandate has risen from 18 to 30, impacting both employers and their employees." —Cathleen Calhoun, Legal Analyst
"Against the backdrop of state laws shielding employers from COVID-19 liability issues, and the delta variant continuing to raise serious concerns, employers are still intensely focused on managing coronavirus spread in the workplace. This includes questions of whether to impose vaccine mandates and whether to require employees to work in-person, remotely, or a combination of both." —Pamela Wolf, Senior Legal Analyst
Contact: To arrange an interview with Cathleen Calhoun, Pamela Wolf or other legal experts from Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S. on this or any other related topics, please contact Linda Gharib: [email protected].
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