Governor Kim Reynolds has signed the State of Iowa onto three separate lawsuits that are challenging Biden Administration Covid vaccination requirements in the workplace.
“We’re going to keep fighting for Iowans to give them the opportunity to make their own choice about their health care,” Reynolds, a Republican, said during a brief interview on Thursday.
In response to one lawsuit, federal courts have temporarily blocked an OSHA rule to require businesses with more than 100 employees to ensure workers are vaccinated for Covid or tested regularly.
“We’ve got a pretty good chance,” Reynolds told Radio Iowa. “Our goal right now, really, is to just — and I’ve let businesses know this — to really take the temporary stay and make it permanent until we can get it litigated through the courts, so we can really have our chance to make our case in court and to just pause what I feel is tremendous overreach and we believe it’s unconstitutional as well.”
The latest lawsuit Reynolds has joined was filed by 10 states on Wednesday and challenges a requirement that most U.S. health care workers get vaccinated. Reynolds said a Covid vaccine mandate for employees in facilities that treat patients receiving Medicare or Medicaid benefits could be “devastating” to Iowa’s nursing homes as some workers are threatening to quit rather than get vaccinated.
“They’re already stretched so thin and they are a phenomenal example of the heroes that have been on the front line from the very beginning and, you know, they don’t get to shut down for a couple of days like a restaurant or a manufacturing facility,” Reynolds said. “They have vulnerable older Iowans that they need to take care of. And so if you don’t have staff to do that, what do we do?”
An AARP analysis released Thursday indicates 71% of Iowa nursing home staff are fully vaccinated, an increase from a month ago, and the vaccination rate among Iowa nursing home residents remains 93%.
“Increasing vaccination rates among nursing home residents and staff is key to protecting our loved ones and getting the pandemic under control,” said Brad Anderson, State Director for AARP.
Reynolds got a dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid vaccine on live television and has encouraged Iowans to get vaccinated. Reynolds suggested the reluctance some Iowans have about getting a Covid shot is based on an array of factors, including what she referred to as “an arbitrary decision” to choose businesses with 100 or more workers for one of the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandates , while exempting U.S. Postal Service workers.
“You know, people get an annual flu shot and they don’t think anything about it, but it’s been vetted. It’s been there for a long time,” Reynolds said, “so I just think there’s a lot of just frustration and confusion with the mixed messaging.”
Reynolds made her comments to a Radio Iowa reporter after appearing at a Veterans Day ceremony at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery.
Officials in the Biden Administration say the federal government clearly has the authority to protect workers from “grave danger” and — with about 1,300 Americans dying of Covid daily — the threat from the virus “is ongoing and overwhelming.” Some of the nation’s largest companies have Covid vaccine requirements. Tyson Foods announced in late October that more than 96% of its employees were vaccinated. United Airlines announced 99% of its workforce met the company’s deadline for getting a Covid shot.