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Home Depot responds to Biden vaccine mandate

The Atlanta-based company, with thousands of employees, would be subject to the new regulations being issued through an executive order.

ATLANTA — The Home Depot, one of Georgia's largest employers, said in a statement Friday it was "evaluating" things after President Joe Biden announced new regulations to require employees of larger businesses to get vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID testing.

The Atlanta-based company, with thousands of employees in Georgia and across the country, would be among those subjected to the Biden administration's new workplace health and safety guidelines, which will be applied to businesses with more than 100 employees.

The policy is meant to spur the country's vaccination drive amid the ongoing COVID surge spurred on by the delta variant, which has put a major strain on hospitals in Georgia and elsewhere.

RELATED: Here's what a legal expert thinks of Biden's vaccine mandate

In a statement, The Home Depot said it was "evaluating these new developments," but not yet requiring vaccinations for its employees.

"We don't currently require associates to get vaccinated," the statement said. "We're communicating regularly with associates through our internal channels to encourage COVID-19 vaccination, and we provide information and resources to make it easier for our associates to get the vaccine."

Biden's order could apply to as many as 100 million Americans employed by large businesses. Speaking to those who have remained unvaccinated, the president said Thursday night: “We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us."

 A range of Republican leaders, including Georgia's governor, said they would oppose Biden's regulations.

"I will pursue every legal option available to the state of Georgia to stop this blatantly unlawful overreach by the Biden administration," Gov. Brian Kemp said in the tweet. 

RELATED: Biden announces new vaccine mandates affecting 100 million Americans

11Alive legal analyst Page Pate told 11Alive's Hope Ford that he anticipated some businesses would refuse to comply with the order and even challenge it in court. He described Biden's plan as a novel approach that hasn't before been tried through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

"The theory from the Biden administration, COVID's a big risk, vaccinations work as least as far as serious illness is concerned mostly, so we are going to require people are vaccinated or regularly tested as a workplace safety issue," Pate said.

He added it was unclear how courts would interpret this theory.

"When we think about OSHA workplace safety rules, we think of things like making sure the roof isn't falling, masking sure workers who are involved in hazardous duties have masks on, something that's obvious to protect someone's immediate risk of injury. This is very different," he said.

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