Governor Spencer Cox speaks during the PBS Utah GovernorÕs Monthly News Conference at the Eccles Broadcast Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 17, 2021.

SALT LAKE CITY – Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson released a statement Thursday afternoon in response to the Biden Administration’s announcement of a new vaccine and testing requirement for all businesses over 100 employees:

The beginning of the statement said, “The President’s vaccine mandate for businesses is a serious mistake. It’s outside the authority of the federal government and, as public health experts have pointed out, it is likely to exacerbate and broaden public resistance to all vaccines, which may outweigh any marginal benefit in terms of increased population immunity.

The statement came hours after The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced tens of millions of Americans who work at companies with 100 or more employees will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or get tested for the virus weekly. Companies that fail to comply could face penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation.

The new requirements were first previewed by President Biden in September. They will apply to about 84 million workers at medium and large businesses.

The statement from Gov. Cox and Lt. Gov. Henderson concluded, “We continue to strongly encourage Utahns to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their loved ones, and to protect the hospital capacity that we all use. The vaccines are a miracle of science and represent the best way to end the pandemic, but a federal mandate is heavy-handed overreach that will harden vaccine resistance and polarization. Workplace vaccination and testing policies should remain firmly the prerogative of business owners. We’re committed to fighting the mandate through every possible avenue.”

It is not clear how many employees are unvaccinated and would be impacted by the vaccine mandate. A senior White House official said OSHA would target companies if it gets complaints.

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