Mandate a comprehensive new vaccine for 100 million Americans

President Joe Biden

Mandate a comprehensive new vaccine for 100 million Americans

 On Thursday, President Joe Biden, in his harshest pandemic actions and words, announced blanket federal vaccine requirements affecting up to 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to increase vaccinations against COVID-19 and limit the high delta variable.

President  Biden criticized the nearly 80 million Americans who have not yet been vaccinated, despite months of availability and incentives.

"We have been patient. But our patience is running out, and your refusal has cost us all," he said, his words except for gnawing. An unvaccinated minority "can do a lot of damage, and they are."

Expanded rules require all employers with more than 100 workers to be vaccinated or tested, affecting about 80 million Americans. Nearly 17 million health facility workers receiving Federal Medicare or Medicaid will also have to be fully vaccinated.

Biden is also signing an executive order requiring vaccination for administrative branch employees who do business with the federal government. This covers several million workers.

Biden announced the new requirements in a speech Thursday afternoon from the White House as part of a new "action plan" to counter the recent surge in coronavirus cases and the languid pace of COVID-19 shots that have raised doubts among the public about his handling epidemic.

Just two months ago, Biden prematurely declared the nation's "independence" from the virus. Now, even though more than 208 million Americans have had at least one dose of the vaccine, the United States sees about 300% more new COVID-19 infections every day, about two and a half times more hospitalizations, and nearly twice the number of deaths. Compared to the same time last year.

"We are in a difficult phase, and it may last for a while," Biden said of the current situation of the epidemic.

After months of using promotions to push the vaccination rate, Biden has taken a stricter hand, with his aides blaming people who haven't yet taken their shots for the sharp rise in cases that are killing more than 1,000 people a day and threatening the fragile economic recovery.

In addition to vaccination requirements, Biden moved to double federal fines for airline passengers who refuse to wear masks on flights or maintain face-covering requirements on national properties according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Biden announced that the federal government would increase the supply of virus tests. The White House has taken concessions from retailers including Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger to sell at-home test kits at a cost starting this week.

The department was also sending additional federal support to help schools operate safely, including additional funding for testing. Biden will demand significant recreational places and arenas to request vaccinations or negative proof of entry tests.

An administration official said the requirement for large companies to require vaccinations or weekly testing of employees would be enacted by an upcoming rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that imposes penalties of $14,000 for each violation. The White House did not immediately say when it would take effect but said workers would have time to get vaccinated.

The rule will also require large companies to offer paid leave for vaccination.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will extend the vaccination requirement issued earlier this summer — for nursing home employees — to other health care settings, including hospitals, home health agencies, and dialysis centers.

Also, the Department of Health and schools will require vaccinations in Head Start programs and schools, affecting about 300,000 employees.

Biden's order for executive branch workers and contractors includes exceptions for workers seeking religious or medical exemptions from vaccination, according to Basaki. Federal workers and contractors will have 75 days to get a complete vaccination. Workers who do not comply will be referred to the human resources departments of their agencies for counseling and discipline, including possible dismissal.

"We would like to be a model" for other organizations and businesses across the country, Psaki said of the federal workforce.

An AP-NORC poll conducted in August found that 55% of Americans support requiring government employees to be fully vaccinated, compared to 21% who oppose it. A similar majority also supported vaccine mandates for health care workers, teachers working in K-12 schools, and workers who interact with the public,

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