Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has joined attorneys general in Ohio and Tennessee in seeking to block a new federal COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate for large workplaces released Thursday.
The new rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would require workplaces with 100 or more employees to have workers fully vaccinated by January 4 or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing, something expected to affect 84 million people across the country.
Cameron and others allege in their lawsuit the loss of employees for federal contractors in Kentucky from having to comply with the vaccine mandate would harm the state’s economy and worsen supply chain issues.
“The federal government contracts with private businesses and public agencies in states across the country, and the Commonwealth is no exception, meaning that numerous Kentuckians are subject to the Biden Administration’s unconstitutional vaccination requirement,” said Cameron in a statement. “We are taking the issue of federal overreach seriously and will protect the livelihoods of countless Kentuckians and Kentucky businesses from overbroad mandates.”
A release from Cameron’s office states the federal government awarded $9.3 billion for 32,465 contracts in Kentucky for fiscal year 2021. The lawsuit points to local jails in Kentucky that have optional vaccination policies, specifically jails in Boone County, Laurel County and Grayson County, as having contracts with the federal government to house prisoners.
“Multiple staff members at these jails have indicated they will end their employment if forced to take a COVID-19 vaccine, which will only exacerbate the current staffing challenges at these institutions and threaten public safety,” the lawsuit states.
The Courier-Journal previously reported Kentucky Department of Corrections employees who are unvaccinated have had to submit to twice-weekly testing for COVID-19 since May.
Beshear in a Thursday press conference said he assumes that because Kentucky state government is considered a large employer, state workers will have to submit to weekly testing if not fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.
“The Supreme Court and most of the federal circuit courts have been supportive of the constitutionality of different vaccine programs,” Beshear said. “I don’t know the nuances of this lawsuit. In the end, we got to follow the law as a state, and we will prepare to comply.”
The lawsuit did not mention a second federal rule that would require health care workers to get vaccinated by Jan. 4, without providing an option for weekly testing.
This story may be updated.