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'This Could Be Disastrous' - Texas Businesses Push Back Against New Federal Vaccine Requirements

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Texas business organizations pushed back quickly Thursday against details of a new federal vaccine and testing requirement for large businesses.

The rule would require companies with 100 or more employees to make sure they're all vaccinated when the return to work after the holidays. Those without a shot by January 4 must test weekly and wear a mask while on the job.

Attorney General Ken Paxton immediately announced on Twitter his plans to sue the Biden administration once the rule becomes official. Paxton had previously signed onto a letter with 23 other states opposing the action in September when the President first announced his intention for such a rule.

Glenn Hamer, CEO of the Texas Association of Business, wrote in a statement the organization remains a strong proponent of voluntary vaccinations, but was concerned the mandate could increase the challenge businesses have currently finding workers.

The Texas Restaurant Association echoed the concern, saying some workers would inevitably leave large businesses covered by the mandate, for smaller employers not required to adhere to it. The group also cautioned that employees who leave positions in the supply chain would exacerbate disruptions there. "If employees refuse to comply, this could be disastrous," the Restaurant Association wrote.

"When somebody gets ousted or pushed out of something, obviously they're going to look for other opportunities to find employment," Ralph DeVivo said Thursday.

At his restaurant in Keller, DeVivo Bros. Eatery, well under the 100-employee standard, Ralph DeVivo said it was possible some people might come looking for work in businesses like his. The dining room had become unusually busy during the last several months. Available workers though, he said, are still in short supply.

Similarly, Palifox Construction Group was anticipating possible interest from employees leaving larger companies.

"In the office on the sales side, finding good people that want to come in and truly work now? It's been really hard to find," said Amy Soliman.

The company has more work now, with less than half its former number of employees. It advertises health and safety policies on its website, and has adjusted work schedules to accommodate clients during the pandemic, but with just six employees will not fall under the mandate.

Another part of the new rule requires healthcare workers with companies that accept Medicare and Medicaid to be vaccinated, and the testing option is not available.

Care Crew, a home health care provider based in Keller, doesn't accept the federal payments and thought it could impact them beyond just healthcare workers leaving facilities that fall under the mandate.

Annie Soliman said the whole sector had seen growth as bed availability required more people staying at home as opposed to hospitals or care facilities. The mandates, she said, could continue to impact that.

"Folks are going to get home quicker. They might not have as many people to take care of them in the hospital or in a nursing home. So they're going to be pushed home. And then we have to be ready to take care of them," she said. "Someone's got to take care of them."

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