The vast majority of employees at Fox Corporation, the umbrella company for the conservative Fox News channel, are vaccinated against coronavirus and those who are not will be required to do daily testing, according to a memo sent out from bosses – despite some of its biggest screen stars questioning the vaccine.
A daily test is stricter than the Biden administration’s firm mandate that businesses with more than 100 employees must require either vaccination or weekly testing.
The news came as Joe Biden was scheduled to meet with business leaders on Wednesday, including from Disney and Microsoft, to urge vaccine mandates for employees across US businesses.
Such mandates, which have earned the president both praise and flak since he announced them last week, are expected to cover 80 million workers at large firms along with 17 million healthcare professionals across the country.
In the memo, which was sent out on Tuesday to Fox Corporation employees, Kevin Lord, the company’s executive vice-president, announced that more than 90% of the company’s full-time employees had been vaccinated, CNN first reported on Tuesday night.
The information was uploaded on a secure system where employees could share their vaccination status, the memo said.
“Employees who are not vaccinated or have not provided their vaccination status and wish to access one of our facilities will not incur the cost of testing,” a Fox Corporation representative told the Guardian on Wednesday.
The memo did not clarify when the daily testing would begin for unvaccinated employees or those declining to disclose their status, and a representative for the company did not respond to a follow-up query on the matter.
It remains to be seen how it will affect the environment within the organization that hosts prominent vaccine skeptics such as Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham. The company did not respond to a specific query about this inconsistency in its messaging.
CNN further reported that the White House had praised Fox and challenged it to mirror its corporate practices to its viewers.
“Today’s news from Fox News follows a trend we’re seeing across the country: vaccination and testing requirements work,” a White House spokesperson told CNN on Tuesday night, adding: “We are glad they have stepped up to protect their workforce and strengthen the economy, and we encourage them to convey to their audience that these types of practices will protect their employees, their communities, and the economy.”
The update about Fox Corporation’s employees coincided with the Tuesday release of a Kaiser Family Foundation report that estimated that the cost of preventable hospitalizations for unvaccinated adults went from $0.6bn in June to $3.7bn in August, with a total $5bn spent on it across these three months alone.
During this time, the number of unvaccinated adults who were hospitalized primarily for Covid-19 treatment went up from 39,000 to 342,000, the report estimated.
As of Tuesday, the US had recorded 663,913 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, with one in 500 Americans dying from the virus, according to CNN.