Author: Zeke Miller
Washington (Associated Press)-President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that a comprehensive new federal vaccine requirement affects up to 100 million Americans in an effort to increase COVID-19 vaccination and contain the surge in delta variants, which causes thousands every week People died and endangered the country’s economic recovery.
Extensive regulations require all employers with more than 100 employees to be vaccinated or tested for the virus every week, affecting approximately 80 million Americans. Approximately 17 million workers in medical institutions receiving Medicare or Medicaid must also be fully vaccinated.
Biden also signed an executive order requiring vaccinations for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government-without the option of testing. This covers millions of other workers.
Biden will announce the new requirements in a White House speech on Thursday afternoon as part of a new “action plan” to deal with the latest rise in coronavirus cases and the stagnation of COVID-19 injections, which has raised doubts among the public. Handling of the epidemic.
Just two months ago, Biden declared the United States “independent” from the virus prematurely. Now, although more than 208 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, the number of new COVID-19 infections in the United States has increased by about 300% every day, the number of hospitalizations has increased by about two and a half times, and the number of deaths has nearly tripled. Compared to the same period last year.
On Thursday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki and other senior government officials previewed Biden’s plan before speaking.
After months of promotional activities to increase vaccination rates, Biden took a firmer stance, because his helpers blamed those who have not been vaccinated, causing more than 1,000 deaths every day and a sharp increase in cases that endanger the fragile economy. Rebound.
Psaki said that Biden’s “overall goal is to reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans” and noted that about 80 million adults remain unvaccinated.
A poll conducted by AP-NORC in August found that 54% of Americans approve of Biden’s management of the public health crisis due to a decline in the approval rate of Republicans and political independents, down from 66% in the previous month.
In addition to the vaccination requirements, Biden also intends to impose double federal fines on air passengers who refuse to wear masks in flight or maintain mask requirements on federal property in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
Biden will also announce that the federal government will work to increase the supply of virus tests, and the White House has obtained concessions from retailers such as Wal-Mart, Amazon and Kroger to sell home test kits at cost prices starting this week.
The government will also provide additional federal support to assist in the safe operation of the school, including additional funding for testing. Biden will call on large entertainment venues and arenas to require vaccinations or provide negative test certificates to enter.
A government official said that large companies’ mandatory requirements for employees to be vaccinated or tested on a weekly basis will be implemented through an upcoming regulation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, with a fine of $14,000 for each violation. The White House did not immediately say when it will take effect, but said workers will have enough time to vaccinate.
The rule also requires large companies to provide paid leave for vaccination.
At the same time, the Medicare and Medicaid Services Center will extend the vaccination requirements for nursing home staff that were issued earlier this summer to other medical institutions, including hospitals, home health institutions, and dialysis centers.
In addition, the Ministry of Health and Human Services will require vaccination in schools run by the Enlightenment Program and the Ministry of Defense and the Indian Education Authority, affecting approximately 300,000 employees.
According to Psaki, Biden’s orders for executive branch workers and contractors include exceptions for workers seeking religious or medical exemptions for vaccinations. Federal workers and contractors will have 75 days for full vaccination. Workers who do not comply with the regulations will be referred to the human resources department of their organization for consultation and disciplinary action, including possible dismissal.
Speaking of the federal workforce, Psaki said, “We want to be a role model for other organizations and businesses across the country.” An AP-NORC poll found that 55% of Americans support the requirement that government workers be fully vaccinated, while 21% oppose it.
Biden encourages the requirement for COVID-19 vaccines in schools, workplaces, and university campuses. The White House hopes that strengthened federal authorization will encourage more companies to follow suit. On Thursday, the Los Angeles Board of Education is expected to vote to require all students 12 years and older to be fully vaccinated in the second university district in the United States.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Indian Department of Health and the National Institutes of Health have previously announced vaccine requirements for most of its employees. The Pentagon took action last month to require all military personnel to be vaccinated. The White House estimates that these requirements together cover 2.5 million Americans. The Thursday order is expected to affect nearly 2 million federal workers and millions of contractors.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 177 million people have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, but the number of confirmed virus cases in recent weeks has soared to an average of 140,000 cases per day, and an average of 1,000 Americans die from the virus every day. Disease control and prevention.
Most transmissions — and most serious illnesses and deaths — occur in people who have not yet been fully vaccinated with the virus. People who are vaccinated can develop so-called breakthrough infections, but the risk is often much lower.
“We cannot accept that this is the new normal,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner, who frequently commented on the pandemic. If the pandemic continues unabated, it will mean 500,000 deaths each year. “Of course no one wants that.”
Wen Jiabao has always urged the White House to take a tougher stance on vaccine requirements, including the use of so-called vaccine “passports” in travel and workplaces, with little room for maneuver.
“I want to see the full power of the federal government here, not half of the measures,” she said. “I want to see a hard reset by the Biden administration, rather than cannibalizing on the edges.”
Federal officials are advancing a plan to start a booster injection of the mRNA vaccine to strengthen protection against the more easily spreading virus delta variant. Last month, Biden announced plans to provide them from September 20th, but by then, only Pfizer vaccine may receive regulatory approval for the third dose. Federal regulators are seeking more data from Moderna, which may delay its booster approval to October.
The officials’ goal is to give a booster injection about eight months after the second dose of the double-dose vaccine.
Associated Press writer Ricardo Alonso-Zardiva contributed.