WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered sweeping new federal vaccine mandates that could cover as many as 100 million Americans.
- The president criticized unvaccinated Americans, saying “your refusal has cost all of us” despite months of vaccine availability.
- Biden warned governors “who won’t help” to “get out of the way.”
President Joe Biden on Thursday announced sweeping new federal vaccine mandates that would cover as many as 100 million Americans, including private-sector employees, health care workers, and federal contractors.
The mandate requires all employers with over 100 workers to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. Also, about 17 million workers at health facilities who receive federal Medicare or Medicaid will have to be fully vaccinated.
This is the president’s strongest push yet to require vaccines, an all-out effort to rein the surging COVID-19 delta variant.
Speaking at the White House, Biden said the vaccinated were growing “frustrated” with the 80 million Americans who have not received shots and might be fueling the spread of the coronavirus.
“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” he said. The unvaccinated minority “can cause a lot of damage, and they are.”
Most of the reported infections and the vast majority of severe cases and death is occurring among the unvaccinated. Breakthrough infections among vaccinated people also occur but hospitalization and death are all much lower.
Biden also blasted “elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19.” He said, “Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they’re ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from COVID in their communities.”
Early last month, Biden pleaded to these governors to “Please help. Use your power to save lives” but also issued a stern warning.
“If these governors won’t help us … I’ll use my powers as president to get them out of the way,” he reiterated.
The Biden administration is also leaning towards masking and testing mandates while waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to approve booster shots for fully vaccinated people.
Officials are aiming to administer the boosters eight months after the second dose of the two-dose vaccines.
Last month, the president announced plans to make them available beginning Sept. 20, but only the vaccine from Pfizer/BionTech will likely have received regulatory approval for a third dose by that time.
Source: Associated Press