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September 9, 2021

Biden Announces Vaccine Mandates That Will Affect 100 Million U.S. Workers

Biden Announces Vaccine Mandates That Will Affect 100 Million U.S. Workers

President Biden announced plans to sign an executive order, requiring all 2.1 million federal employees and government contractors to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Under this new mandate, the option for regular testing rather than vaccination will be eliminated. Another 17 million employees at health care facilities that receive funding from Medicare and Medicaid must also be fully vaccinated.

Biden doesn’t have the legal authority to institute a national vaccine mandate, but the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will also force private businesses with 100 or more employees—some 80 million workers—to either require their employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. Under this rule, workers must be provided paid time off to get their shots.

Overall, the new vaccination requirements in the President's “Path Out of the Pandemic” action plan cover about 100 million workers.

Biden also urged school districts, private businesses and other organization to follow suit, requiring all employees get vaccinated, during a September 9 speech from the White House. The plan also pushes large venues, including sports arenas and concert halls, to require visitors to be vaccinated or show a negative test result to gain entry.

This aggressive move to get more Americans immunized is one of six key steps the federal government is taking to slow the spread of the Delta variant as the number of new U.S. coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths has surged in recent weeks, particularly among unvaccinated people.

“The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing,” said Biden, noting that nearly three-quarters of eligible people have gotten at least one shot.

As of September 9, just 62.5 percent of people who are eligible to receive a COVID vaccine are fully vaccinated. And slightly more than one-quarter of those who could get vaccinated have still not done so.

“That 25 percent minority can cause a lot of damage and they are,” Biden said, pointing out that unvaccinated people are crowding U.S. hospitals, leaving little room for those with other life-threatening health issues.

“Pandemic politics are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die,” the President added.

In just the past week, nearly one million new COVID-19 U.S. cases have been reported and 1,647 more Americans died from the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the combined proportion of cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant is estimated to be greater than 99 percent.

What’s included in Biden’s plan
In addition to jumpstarting stalled vaccination rates, Biden’s plan seeks to:

Continue to protect vaccinated people. Booster shots will be easily accessible once they are authorized by U.S. health officials.

Keep schools safely open. The 300,000 staffers at Head Start and Early Head Start programs must be fully vaccinated. Currently, nine states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have vaccination requirements for K-12 school staff. The President is urging more states to enforce vaccine mandates for all those eligible.

In an effort to protect children in schools, Biden is also encouraging parents to have their eligible children vaccinated. Health officials will also help schools establish COVID testing programs.

Increase COVID testing and make sure Americans continue to mask up. Biden’s plan seeks to ensure that COVID tests will be more accessible and affordable. Biden noted that top retailers that sell at-home, rapid COVID-19 tests—Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger—will offer to sell those tests at-cost for the next three months.

The number of retail pharmacy sites around the country where anyone can get tested for free will be expanded to 10,000 pharmacies.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and interstate travel mask mandate will be extended through mid-January and the fine for noncompliance will double.

Protect and support economic recovery. Biden aims to prevent a return to lockdowns and shutdowns. The President’s plan will bolster the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, allowing more businesses to get support from the $150 billion in loanable funds still available in the program.

Improve care for those with COVID-19. The United States government shipped an average of approximately 100,000 doses of monoclonal antibodies per week across July and August. Biden’s plan will boost the average weekly pace of shipments of free monoclonal antibody treatments by 50 percent.

Biden noted that monoclonal antibody treatments have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization by up to 70 percent for unvaccinated people at risk of developing severe disease.

Sources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “COVID Data Tracker”. Accessed Sep 9, 2021.
The White House. “Path out of the Pandemic: PRESIDENT BIDEN'S COVID-19 ACTION PLAN.” Sep 9, 2021.

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