According to the New York Times, the state of Oregon is now requiring businesses, workplaces, and places of worship to verify the vaccination status of their customers before they enter buildings without a mask.
This statewide mandate, one of the first of its kind in the country, is meant to prevent customers from simply claiming they have been vaccinated without actually having received the jab.
Some states and businesses have adopted an honor system which has been criticized by many media pundits, but other states like Oregon – and now some counties in California – appear to be getting stricter. Business groups in Oregon expressed concerns that a mandate to check the vaccination status of individuals could become a difficult and maybe even a dangerous task.
The Oregon Health Authority said its new guidance on Tuesday is effective immediately, and businesses would be required to continue to enforce mask requirements unless they confirm proof of vaccination before individuals can enter the building without a mask.
Mask mandates, capacity rules, and lockdown orders are regulations that are typically enforced by the state governments, but vaccine passports are almost solely going to be left up to the private business to enforce. Many worry that passport mandates – like those implemented in Oregon – will eventually expand to other states across the country, and customers will soon have to show a scannable QR code on their phone to shop at stores like Walmart or Sams Club.
Santa Clara County is the first of many counties throughout the state that is now demanding vaccination information be given to employers. California businesses are now required to submit the vaccination status of all employees.
According to the county’s public health order, “All businesses and government entities must ascertain the vaccination status of personnel and must comply with the rules for personnel who are not fully vaccinated, as required under section 9(c) and 9(d) of the County Health Officer’s May 18, 2021 Order.”
Under the health order, if the employee declines to reveal their vaccination status, the employer “should assume the employee may be unvaccinated and follow further requirements for unvaccinated employees.”
According to the health order, HIPPA laws do not apply to the mandate, because employers are asking an employee for their vaccination status:
“No. HIPAA applies to certain entities, such as healthcare providers and health plans, and what protected health information they can share about their patients or members under what circumstances. HIPAA does not govern what information employers may request from their employees.”
Additionally, employees are directed are to document fellow co-workers’ names if they won’t reveal whether they have been vaccinated or not.
“You must document that the worker declined to disclose his or her vaccination status, assume that they are not fully vaccinated, and follow all the rules that apply to workers who are not fully vaccinated.” the order said.
What Powers Do the State Have and What is the solution?
Under the ‘police powers’ of the tenth amendment, it is clearly stated that the regulation of health, wellbeing, morality, and education of citizens in under the sole authority of the states.
Police powers are the powers of a state government to make and enforce all laws necessary to preserve public health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens of the country. These powers originate from the English common law system. When the Constitution was ratified in 1788, the states did not surrender their powers as a condition of creating the federal government. The federal government has very few actual powers, and the regulation of health and education is not on the list.
Republicans control over half of the state legislatures and governorships in the country. Banning mask mandates and vaccine passports for local governments as well as private businesses is not only the decision of the state government, but it’s a no-brainer and the only solution.
All of the covid restrictions that were put into place at the beginning of the pandemic – from the lockdowns to the masks – were introduced and enforced by the state governments.
Many conservative voters have said that it is unacceptable that the majority of Republican states have not only refused to ban vaccine passports but have yet to lift most of the restrictions they put in place over a year ago.
Republican governors like Mike Dewine of Ohio and Andy Beshear of Kentucky have come under fire for being the slowest walking of them all. DeWine at one point even issued a curfew for Ohio residents a few months ago.
Neither of them has made any moves on vaccine passports.
Some Republican governors, like Brad Little of Idaho and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, have not only lifted their mask mandates, but each has issued executive orders prohibiting businesses from requiring vaccine documentation.
But some conservative voters say these states do not go far enough and believe the mask mandates should also be banned from being enforced by businesses and local governments, which the states have the authority to do.