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Even Trump-friendly companies seem comfortable with COVID restrictions

On Thursday afternoon, President Joe Biden announced that U.S. businesses with over 100 employees will soon need to ensure that their employees are either fully vaccinated or tested weekly.

Within hours, the reaction in the political class was intense. The hashtag #wewillnotcomply was trending on Twitter, Biden was called an authoritarian and a fascist, and Republican governors and the RNC threatened legal action.

Brooke Rollins, the CEO of Trump-aligned America First Policy Institute, was one of many to try to bring in the business community. “Businesses across the country should refuse to endorse this egregious violation of our most fundamental rights,” he said in a statement. JD Vance, a Republican candidate for Senate in Ohio and the author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” told the business community, “DO NOT COMPLY.”

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 09: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his plan to stop the spread of the Delta variant and boost COVID-19 vaccinations, in the State Dining Room of the White House complex on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021 in Washington, DC. The President announced expanded efforts to stamp out the lingering pandemic, including stricter rules to get more Americans vaccinated against COVID-19 and additional funding for testing. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his plan to stop the spread of the Delta variant and boost COVID-19 vaccinations at White House on Thursday. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

By Friday morning, President Biden still expressed confidence about his new mandate. When asked about the threats of lawsuits, the president replied, “Have at it.”

For their part, real-life businesses — including those aligned with Trump — have had a muted reaction so far to the new guidelines.

We ‘will comply’

During his speech on Thursday, Biden noted that United Airlines (UAL), Disney (DIS), and Tyson Foods (TSN) were already complying with the forthcoming rules.

Then he pointedly added “even Fox News” to that group already playing by the new rules.

Indeed, memos from the company from July and another in August lay out how the company has had detailed systems in place for weeks that likely ensure virtually all their employees will be either vaccinated or regularly tested.

In contrast to the tone of much of their coverage late Thursday and Friday, Fox’s actual policy remains and shows no signs of changing. Virtually all of Fox News employees need to either provide proof of a vaccination or be tested regularly. Employees must report their vaccination status and there is testing on-site for employees in the New York office. The company even has a mask mandate in confined spaces like control rooms.

Another conservative-leaning channel, Newsmax, also offered up critical coverage of the new rule but appears to be willing to comply with it. 

The station is run by Chris Ruddy, who is a longtime friend of Trump’s and a member of his Mar-a-Lago Club. His channel has long offered a platform for vaccine criticism including one notorious example of a host saying vaccines were “against nature.”

A statement to Yahoo Finance Friday said that “Newsmax has encouraged its readers, viewers and employees to get the COVID vaccine.” The statement added: “Newsmax has and will comply with all employee health requirements as set forth by the government.”

There has been at least one example of a pro-Trump outlet stating it won’t comply with the Biden mandate. Daily Wire, a conservative website, announced that it will resist the vaccine requirement. “We’ll use every tool at our disposal including legal action to resist,” the site’s CEO said in a video.

Other large companies in the Trump immediate orbit have likewise more often chosen to comply with health restrictions instead of defying public health guidelines.

Trump’s own hotels offer their guests extensive assurances online about their compliance with COVID regulations. Hotels like the Washington, DC location currently have an indoor mask mandate.

Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.

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