Biden on Thursday announced sweeping new federal vaccine requirements affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase COVID-19 vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant of the coronavirus that is killing thousands each week and jeopardizing the nation’s economic recovery.
The plan includes six parts:
- Vaccinating the unvaccinated, including new mandates for federal employees and an OSHA rule mandating large employers require vaccinations or weekly testing
- Further protecting the vaccinated, including a booster program to be rolled out by September 20
- Keeping schools safely open, including a new vaccine requirement for Head Start program teachers and staff
- Increasing testing and requiring masking, including using the Defense Production Act to boost the availability of rapid and at-home test kits
- Protecting the economic recovery, including strengthening the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program
- Improving COVID-19 treatments, including a 50% boost in weekly shipments of monoclonal antibody treatments to states
“This is not about freedom or personal choice,” Biden said. “It’s about protecting yourself and those around you.”
“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said as he criticized the roughly 80 million Americans who are not yet vaccinated.
The Biden administration announced that all employers with 100+ employees must either mandate vaccines or test weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans.
The requirement for large companies to mandate vaccinations or weekly testing for employees will be enacted through a forthcoming rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that carries penalties of $14,000 per violation, an administration official said. The White House did not immediately say when it would take effect, but said workers would have sufficient time to get vaccinated.
The rule would also require that large companies provide paid time off for vaccination.Source says Biden to require federal workers, contractors to get vaccine
Previously all federal workers and those in health care working at facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid were mandated to be vaccinated. Thursday, that requirement was extended to all federal contractors.
Biden is also signing an executive order to require vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government — with no option to test out. That covers several million more workers.
The overall core components of the plan include vaccinating the unvaccinated, protecting the vaccinated, keeping schools open, increasing testing and masking, promoting economic recovery, improving care for those with COVID-19.
You can read more information about his plan here.
“We are in the tough stretch and it could last for a while,” Biden said of the current state of the pandemic.
In addition to the vaccination requirements, Biden moved to double federal fines for airline passengers who refuse to wear masks on flights or to maintain face covering requirements on federal property in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Biden announced that the federal government will work to increase the supply of virus tests, and that the White House has secured concessions from retailers including Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger to sell at-home testing kits at cost beginning this week.
The administration was also sending additional federal support to assist schools in safely operating, including additional funding for testing. Biden has encouraged COVID-19 vaccine requirements in settings like schools, workplaces and university campuses.