The New Mexico Chamber of Commerce wants workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, but it doesn’t want the government calling all the shots.

President Joe Biden announced last week he intended to mandate businesses with 100 or more employees to have their workers vaccinated or tested for the disease once a week. The order hasn’t gone into effect because the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is drawing up rules for it.

Rob Black, president and CEO of the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber wants all eligible people to be vaccinated.

“Our employers have every right to mandate vaccinations within their workforces,” Black said. “And we’re encouraging them to do so.”

One of the toughest challenges facing many businesses now, Black said, is getting workers to return.

And by creating safe workplaces, he said, many of those workers may come back.

Nevertheless, he said, the chamber doesn’t support the government placing mandates on businesses.

Even if it’s a good business practice to make the workplace safe, he said, “we would prefer that it not be a mandate” from the government.

White House officials said last week there are more than 80 million workers in private sector businesses with 100 or more employees.

The state Environment Department said Monday it was set to oversee compliance when the federal rule goes into effect. The state’s Occupational Health & Safety Bureau is part of the Environment Department. That state bureau enforces emergency temporary standards issued by federal OSHA.

The New Mexico Freedoms Alliance is among groups in the state that oppose requirements from anyone to get COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Biden’s new vaccine mandates are discriminatory and unconstitutional. These mandates violate the fundamental right to bodily integrity, and prevent informed consent. Everyone deserves the right to make their own medical decisions, free from coercion, threats, or discrimination,” Sarah Smith, a member of the alliance’s executive committee, said in a statement.

Far from everyone has committed to a course of action. John Traub, general manager of the Albuquerque Isotopes baseball team, said his organization doesn’t consider vaccinations for all of those in the larger business category to be a mandate yet.

“As everything keeps evolving, we’ll be evolving as well,” Traub said.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico wrote in an email that it is “evaluating” the Biden plan.

“As additional information is released, we will determine any potential impacts to our members, customers, providers and our workforce,” the insurance company said.

The Public Service Company of New Mexico said it welcomed the president’s directive.

PNM Resources instituted mandatory vaccinations or weekly testing for both its New Mexico and Texas employees in early September, Becky Teague, vice president of human resources for PNM Resources, said in a statement.

Company spokesman Ray Sandoval declined to say what percent of PNM employees is fully vaccinated but said “we haven’t had any backlash whatsoever.”

Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for the Governor’s Office, said state officials had no question about Biden’s authority on this matter and “we accept and are grateful for federal leadership on this important issue.”

Stuart Paisano, governor of Sandia Pueblo, said Sandia Resort and Casino will be unaffected by Biden’s mandate as it has already mandated all employees be vaccinated.

The University of New Mexico wouldn’t be affected by Biden’s mandate. But spokesman Steve Carr said the university put mandatory vaccinations into effect in early August. Students who are fully vaccinated by the end of this month will get $100 placed into their university accounts.

UNM said it would make accommodations for those who couldn’t get the shots because of disability, medical condition or religious beliefs.

Black said he encouraged business owners to do “whatever they can” to increase safety and good health for workers and customers. That, he added, is the best way to keep economic recovery rolling.

(7) comments

Charlotte Rowe

If the antivaxxers would just grow up and do the right thing, then there would be nothing to brace for. Just get the shot, people. It's the patriotic thing to do.

Robert Fields

For those still refusing to get the vaccine, please check the stats - most sickness and death is among the unvaccinated. By far. More than 90% of the sickness and more than 90% of the deaths. The vaccinated still dying have co-morbidities or are just extremely unlucky. No vaccine guarantees immunity but they can greatly reduce the chances of hospitalization and death. That more than 90% of the dead now are unvaccinated speaks for itself.

But for a heavy dose of how those covid people are dying, Huffington Post has a very descriptive interview with a south Texas embalmer who describes what happens to people before they die of covid that he can’t even clean up for the funerals, his 36 hour shifts dealing with the backlog, the fatigue of so much of it being preventable. The blood clots, the sepsis, the bloating, the sores from medical tape, etc. It’s graphic but it’s also what people risk by not getting vaccinated. Wait until after breakfast.

The embalmer also notes that the covid bodies he gets are now young to middle age since the nursing homes and older populations are mostly vaccinated.

HuffPo adds identifying information to links so anyone curious can just look for “Texas Embalmer Shares Nightmare COVID Experiences: ‘Unlike Anything I’ve Seen Before’”

And while that bit of reality settles, yet another big anti-vax, anti-mask voice got silenced. Colorado right wing radio host Bob Enyart’s death from covid was just announced. Enyart was famous for mocking people who died of HIV and more recently his target was covid. He’s now dead himself and his wife is suffering severe covid complications. Both refused to wear masks and both refused vaccines.

Enyart joins Richard Farrel, Phil Valentine, Marc Bernier, Tod Tucker, Jimmy DeYoung, and others. All were rabid anti-vaxxers and all are now dead. Some decided to try to undo their damage and warn people they need to get the vaccine but the right abandons them at that point.

Vaccines save lives and prevents those graphic and gruesome covid deaths. For anyone who thinks they can’t get sick and die since the early mutations mostly killed older people, delta is equal opportunity and is hitting the middle age and younger populations much harder. Nobody is safe now.

Anyone anti-vax would do themselves a big favor by learning what happens as covid victims die and paying particular attention to the stories of the very vocal covid dead. None of it is pretty. But it might change your mind and could save your life.

If you’re going to be betting your life, you want it to be an educated bet, don’t you?

Mike Johnson

Yes, many I know hear from employees who do not want the vaccine, they will quit or sue you. This will probably not change much of anything except all us consumers will see worse service and businesses will lose more money.

Robert Fields

Yeah, no. I don’t want covid factories interacting with me for whatever reason.

People keep forgetting - less than 100 employees - No federal mandate. And even then, there is a weekly testing exception for those determined to remain unvaccinated. That, however, can be made more restrictive if the employer wishes.

So can we please stop with the scare tactics? The vaccine is proven to save lives. Just look at who is dying. And don’t forget, the dotard himself even tried to tell anti-vaxxers to get the vaccine but got booed.

The truth is out there if people will just listen. As noted above, the far right anti-vax radio crowd are dropping like flies. The people arguing against the vaccine are putting other people’s lives in danger.

When employees don’t want the vaccine, educate them. Help them to understand the facts. Point at Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Oklahoma. All lovely examples of low vaccination rates and overflowing morgues and refrigerated trailers of dead covid anti-vaxxers. States with high vaccination rates? Problems since anti-vaxxers are everywhere, but not anywhere near what the states known for not vaccinating are seeing.

Mike Johnson

"When employees don’t want the vaccine, educate them. Help them to understand the facts." Right, how about having MLG or some other political operative "educate" them with lectures constantly, now that's the ticket, that is what is missing.......[lol][lol][lol]

Dan Lewis

No one cares what the "New Mexico Freedoms Alliance" has to say. They are all bonkers anyway.

Cheryl Odom

"New Mexico Freedoms Alliance": Free to get sick and die and free to pass your disease on to others so that they can get sick and die, too.

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