LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A week ago, the Biden administration said people working at companies with 100 or more employees will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or get tested weekly.

What You Need To Know

  • New vaccine guidelines from the Biden Administration require employees at some companies to be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or get tested weekly

  • The rules were paused a day after going into effect

  • Humana changed its guidelines to match the order

  • An economics professor predicts the order will impact businesses in multiple ways

The order also states that unvaccinated workers must wear face masks indoors at their workplaces starting Dec. 5.

Although a federal appeals court ordered a temporary halt to the mandate, Humana, a health insurance company and one of Louisville’s largest employers, updated rules in its vaccination policy to match those of the order.

Bellarmine University associate professor in economics Abigail Hall says this move is not unexpected.

 “Humana, they're a health care company, and so what kind of message does the company want to send to people externally about what's going on? So, if a health care company is not particularly adamant about their own employees getting vaccinated, what does that say exactly about the company?” says Hall. 

Abigail Hall is an associate professor in economics at Bellarmine Univerisity. She earned a PhD in Economics from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. (Spectrum News 1/Ashley N. Brown)

Hall says when it comes to complying with the guidelines, time is money and though time to implement the change is short, the list of associated costs to do so is long.

Oneit issue could start with employees who don’t want to get vaccinated.

“If you have a significant number of employees quit, you have to do things like figuring out how do I replace them?” says Hall. “Those types of costs are expensive, particularly when you're in a labor market like the one we're in right now where people have looked around and they notice that a lot of people are hiring and it's not always easy to get people in those jobs.”

She says it will also take time and money to keep track of who is and isn’t vaccinated.

The order isn’t all bad news for businesses. Hall says the order could help businesses save money.

“If you have your employees get vaccinated, you're not having to worry as much about your employees getting sick or getting your customer sick and things like that, sick time,” says Hall.   

Hall says Humana’s decision could influence other companies to get the ball rolling too. 

The professor says the required weekly testing part of the policy aims to increase the cost of not being vaccinated.

“If you have to submit a test every week, you have to take the time out of your day to go get tested to get those results and then submit those to your employer. That kind of time adds up over say the course of a few different weeks, and so it may push people into getting the vaccine which is clearly what it is that the company is trying to do, but ultimately what it is the Biden administration wants,” says Hall. 

Humana employs over 12,000 Kentuckians and some wonder if the company’s decision could boost the state’s 65% vaccinated population? 

“If you look at people over the age of 18, that number increases to 78% and then over 93% for people over the age of 65, so it's not clear whether or not this will impact vaccination rates in Kentucky even though Humana is one of the largest employers in the state,” says Hall. 

The Biden Administration says pausing the requirements would likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day.