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North Alabama businesses navigating state, federal fight over Covid-19 vaccine mandates

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The Biden administration is telling businesses to get employees vaccinated now despite a federal court's stay on the mandate.

However, Alabama business owners are stuck in the middle.

"Either way we go, it's a detriment to business owners and, quite frankly, to our employees as well," said Jeff Gronberg, board chair of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

Gronberg said the Chamber is "very concerned about the vaccine mandate" and how it will affect the workforce. 

"We believe it could be detrimental," Gronberg said.

New state laws say businesses can't require Covid-19 vaccines, 'making it very easy for them to sue us for being compliant for a contract that we have," Gronberg explained.

However, a local employment attorney said he believes most businesses should be able to comply with both. That's because the OSHA mandate offers the option for unvaccinated employees to just wear a mask and get tested weekly.

Attorney Robert Lockwood said if employers adopt that test-out option, there should be no problem complying with both orders.

Still, a major legal battle is brewing as states argue these mandates are unconstitutional.

"It has been a huge overreach of executive power," Alabama Rep. Mike Ball said.

At least 27 states, including Alabama, have filed legal challenges against the OSHA mandate. A federal court stayed it this weekend.

"Why are these legislators, these Republicans, getting in the way of saving lives?" Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during Tuesday's White House briefing.

Both sides remain confident they will prevail in this legal battle.

"The administration clearly has the authority to protect workers," Jean-Pierre said. "You have approximately 1,300 people a day who die from Covid. If that's not a grave danger, I don't know what else is."

The Biden administration asked the federal courts to consolidate all the legal challenges into one court of appeals. That court would be randomly selected.

The Biden administration asked for that process to take place next week.

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