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Life's Rich Pageant

I Am Certain Amtrak’s New Vaccine Plan Will Go Great

Amtrak at Penn Station, NYC
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Here’s, ah, well … here’s something, anyway:

That’s Amtrak, the intercity rail service of the United States, announcing that it will lift the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for its employees, in the wake of a federal court injunction halting enforcement of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors. (Though Amtrak may feature the visible shabbiness and terminal impoverishment of our nation’s systematically hobbled public sector, it is strictly speaking an only quasi-public for-profit corporation, rather than an actual federal agency.) While Amtrak still has the authority to require vaccination as a condition of employment, its honchos no longer enjoy the privilege of shrugging and saying, “Hey, don’t look at me, it’s an executive order” in the face of objections and complaints. Nominally, the justification seems to be that lifting the vaccine mandate will allow Amtrak to maintain the staffing levels required in order to avoid planned service cuts over which Congress grilled the company’s executives last week.

It’s probably fine! According to the statement, “fewer than 500 active Amtrak employees are not in compliance” with the now-abandoned company mandate. That’s barely anybody! And now that the pandemic is on the run, those 500 employees can hardly pose any significant danger of spreading the—ah. Hm. Just a moment. It appears we’re getting some numbers in from the Defector Information and Statistics Clearinghouse.

NYTimes.com

With more than half a million Amtrak and commuter customers passing through its concourses every day, New York Penn Station is the busiest rail hub in North America.

Amtrak

Ah. Hm. Well.