Healthcare and healthcare-related employers have not just been at the heart of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, they have also recently been on the battleground in the fight over mandatory vaccination. Multiple states and locales have enacted some form of a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement. Many of these vaccination mandates are directed at healthcare workers and state employees. These mandates vary by locality as to where the mandates apply, to whom the mandates apply and in what contexts, and when exemptions apply. And, of course, the federal mandates announced in September 2021 loom in the background.
In June 2020, governments around the world were centrally concerned with two issues: (1) what precautions to take to stem the ever-rising tide of COVID-19 cases and (2) how to keep national economies from falling apart due to the economic effects of the pandemic. A primary question for many countries became whether they could effectuate COVID-19 containment protocols without hurting their economies.
Since March 2020, St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page, and the county’s acting director of the Department of Public Health (DPH), Dr. Emily Doucette, have issued more than 20 orders and “safe operating guidelines” regarding COVID-19. On July 29, 2020, with an effective date of July 31, 2020, the DPH issued its third amended public health order setting forth its current “Business and Individual Guidelines for Social Distancing and Re-Opening.” In some respects, this third amended order is a significant step backwards toward stricter requirements compared with the county’s original reopening guidelines.
The “Show Me” state largely sheltered in place on April 6, 2020, when Governor Michael L. Parson and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) issued their initial “Stay Home Missouri” order. This came on the heels of Governor Parson’s March 13 Executive Order 20-02 declaring a state of emergency and followed other Missouri counties’ and cities’ own stay-at-home declarations.
Unemployment insurance laws rarely change. For years, Missouri’s unemployment insurance program has remained steady. So stable, in fact, that it flew under the radar. Most Missouri employers thought about it only when deciding whether to spend the time and money to protest a claim. This was how it was envisioned to work, until the COVID-19 pandemic forced Missouri employers to revisit the unemployment benefits system.