The effect of the Covid Vaccine Mandate on Minnesota

Jonathan Weikel, Student Writer

Over 80 million Americans will be affected by the Covid vaccine mandate recently announced by the Biden administration, including thousands of Minnesota businesses which are attempting to adapt their work structure and employee policies to comply. The mandate, which was announced on September 9th, is the most extreme effort made by the Biden administration yet in an effort to get people vaccinated for Covid.

The mandate would fine businesses $14,000 for every violation. The one exception to this would be weekly testing for every unvaccinated employee which would be at the expense of the business.

One such company that has been affected is 3M, a major consumer goods manufacturer in Minnesota.

Dean Otto, an Electrical Engineer who has worked at 3M for thirty years, said “Because we’re contracted by the government, we can’t use the testing option.” Otto’s office is currently working at home although there are some people from 3M who are working in person. “The Mandate didn’t affect us going back to work. Although the main people at 3M who are working in person are the factory workers,” said Otto.

While some businesses are unsure about the mandate, others are welcoming it. 

“Many companies already were encouraging their employees to get vaccinated, and now they can use the mandate to protect themselves from lawsuits,” said Joan Scharmer, a Business teacher at Totino-Grace High School.

While this could protect certain businesses legally, right now they’re having a tough time finding workers. This mandate now could possibly make this problem even worse. 

 “Most businesses in the service industry are understaffed, although with unemployment benefits decreasing people may be encouraged to go back to work,” Scharmer added.

This mandate has received plenty of push back from people and brings up the question of legality in such an action. 

Mike Feldmann is a city councilman in Long Lake, Minnesota. While Long Lake itself doesn’t have many businesses that are affected by the mandate, Feldmann’s perspective as a city official is important. 

“It all comes down to what is legal. Should the government make a medical choice for someone? We do mandate Tuberculosis vaccinations for students,” Feldmann said.

The best way we can guide around this issue is by looking at the legal history of vaccination mandates.

In 1905, The US Supreme Court decided in Jacobson v. Massachusetts that there is no constitutional right to evade a vaccination mandate calculated to protect the community. That case was between an individual and the state government rather than the federal government. 

“I’ve heard some people use financial incentives to get people vaccinated. I personally don’t agree with that. You shouldn’t need to bribe people to do what’s right. The best way to get people vaccinated is to educate them on vaccines,” Feldmann said.

Looking forward, many businesses in Minnesota are unsure about the specifics of the mandate which is leading to confusion among workers. Now, people who are hesitant to get vaccinated for Covid are now facing the prospect of being unemployed until they comply.