Greater Louisville Inc. The Metro Chamber of Commerce
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September 20, 2021 7:44pm

From the Desk of the CEO: 9/21/21

We are more than 18 months into this pandemic, and the duration remains uncertain. However, one thing is clear. The only way we can control the spread of COVID-19 and keep our economy running is to get as many people as possible vaccinated. Despite Pfizer’s BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine being FDA approved, and nonpartisan medical experts touting all three vaccine’s safety and efficacy for months, only 54.7% of eligible individuals in Louisville have been vaccinated.

When the vaccines were rolled out in January, I hoped that as we approached the fourth quarter of 2021 we would have this pandemic under control. The Delta variant threw us for a loop but these vaccines, which many experts describe as modern medical miracles, still offer us a chance to get back on track. While GLI is still focused on our traditional work like addressing the workforce shortage, bringing new talent and businesses to our region, and advocating for pro-business policies, controlling the spread of COVID-19 through vaccinations is a top priority.

As business leaders, we have an important role to play. Our advocacy team is still learning about the roll-out and enforcement of a federal vaccine and testing mandate for large employers, but in the meantime, we are advocating it is as least burdensome as possible on you and your businesses. You can view my full statement on the new mandate here. While we do not know the specifics and timeline, we do know that vaccines are the only way to control this pandemic, and keep our economy open.

That’s why I am calling on you as employers to make even more difficult and courageous decisions to promote vaccinations in your workforce. Whether it is a vaccine mandate, a combination of vaccination and testing mandates, incentives, or education, now is the time to make those hard decisions and help us control the spread of the Delta variant in our region.

Mandates may not be right for every business, especially as many continue struggling a shortage of workers. That’s why I want to share the strategy our GLI leadership team has deployed over the last few months. We have used a combination method that prioritizes employee well-being, and I am proud to share that we will soon have 100% of our staff fully vaccinated and will be implementing a vaccine mandate for all new staff.

Most of our employees were eager to get vaccinated as soon as it became available in hopes of returning to a sense of normalcy. However, we also offered an extra day of paid time off for vaccinated individuals to help motivate some staff members on the fence. This resulted in the vast majority of individuals getting one of the three vaccines by the beginning of the summer.

Over the last few months, we have engaged with our team members who were still hesitant about the vaccines. We offered educational opportunities, like our ‘Science Behind the Vaccine’ panel event and had one on one conversations to help address specific concerns. It took persistence and time because we wanted to ensure we addressed individual concerns with scientific information and through a compassionate approach.

Although our staff will be fully vaccinated, we are still following all CDC guidance and requiring masks in our downtown office space. We are also requiring proof of vaccines and masks at all of our external, investor events. We know the circumstances are different for every business, however I encourage you to try these tactics or other creative strategies to help us end this pandemic once and for all.