President Biden outlined a new COVID strategy Thursday with new requirements for Federal employees. He also called on the private sector to do more to encourage vaccinations. Biden’s plan would require businesses with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated or tested once a week. He also signed an executive order requiring all government employees to be vaccinated.
This order also applies to independent contractors who work with the government. Exemptions would apply to workers who are unable to get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons.
Key points from “The Path out of the Pandemic” plan include:
- Requiring all employers with 100 or more employees ensure workers are vaccinated or tested weekly.
- All Federal workers and Contractors with the federal government be vaccinated
- Health Care workers at Medicate and Medicaid participating hospitals and health care settings be vaccinated
- Large Entertainment Venues to require proof of vaccination or testing for entry
- Requiring employers to provide paid time off to get vaccinated.
These mandates could affect 100 million Americans. This comes as the United States continues to battle a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant and as over 80 million Americans (25%) remain unvaccinated. Over 90% of COVID-19 hospitalizations are from unvaccinated individuals. Companies that do not comply could be fined up to $14,000 per violation.
As part of the White House’s new strategy to contain the COVID-19 virus, the mandates are part of the president’s six-point plan, which includes:
- Vaccinating the unvaccinated
- Furthering protection for the unvaccinated
- Keeping schools safely open
- Increasing testing and requiring masking
- Protecting economic recovery;
- Improving care for those with COVID-19.
The Republican National Committee said it would file a lawsuit against the new mandates. RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement, “Like many Americans, I am pro-vaccine and anti-mandate. Many small businesses and workers do not have the money or legal resources to fight Biden’s unconstitutional actions and authoritarian decrees, but when his decree goes into effect, the RNC will sue the administration to protect Americans and their liberties.”
While speaking to a middle school in Washington DC, the President responded to Republicans, saying, “Have at it. I am so disappointed, particularly that some of the Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids, so cavalier with the health of their communities.”
During his speech, the president spoke to unvaccinated Americans in an appeal, saying, “Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. So please, do the right thing.”
Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer based in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSanders20 and @DanieSandersOfficial.