Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Polarization over vaccine mandate rules underscores difficulty for US in slowing pandemic

Public support for the Biden administration’s campaign to get more people vaccinated for COVID-19 is largely divided along partisan lines, according to the latest PBS Newshour/NPR/Marist poll. While employers in some regions and parts of the country are reporting that a vast majority of workers are complying with new vaccine requirements, the harsh stance among a minority opposing the mandate reflects the long-term difficulty of President Joe Biden getting enough Americans. to get their shots to help slow the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say that health care workers in hospitals, home health care facilities, and other medical facilities should be vaccinated. But when you break down that response, a larger proportion of Democrats (92 percent) support that federal requirement than either Republicans (38 percent) or independents (56 percent).

The partisan drive for the country’s response to the pandemic is overwhelming, said Dr Celine Gounder, an epidemiologist who advised the Biden-Harris transition team’s COVID-19 response. Gounder said, despite hosting multiple clinical trials for vaccines and having one shot for each person, US vaccination efforts “have really stalled.” The US ranks 48th globally in terms of how much population is vaccinated. Far fewer Republicans have received at least one dose than Democrats and independents, according to recent polling data from the Kaiser Family Foundation COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor.

“It’s because of a lack of sense of community, a lack of a sense of ‘we’re all in this together,'” Gounder said.

A recent federal requirement for health care workers to be vaccinated — which affects 17 million health care workers nationwide and adds to a facility’s Medicare and Medicaid funding for its workers to receive shots — is a The vaccine is one of a broad series of mandates designed by the Biden administration during the U.S. Fourth surge of coronavirus infection.

Megan McGrew/PBS NewsHour. chart by

To boost the nation’s immunity, Biden also announced earlier this month that all employers with 100 workers or more would be required to get vaccinated or show negative test results at least weekly – according to the latest PBS According to NewsHour/NPR, 56 percent of Americans support. / Marist Poll.

The spirit of these mandates is being woven into the wider labor force as well. United Airlines announced this week that nearly all of its US-based employees have been vaccinated, and it will furlough about 600 workers — less than 1 percent of its 67,000 employees — who have called for vaccinations. rejected.

Nearly half of American adults — 51 percent — support the rule that federal contractors should be vaccinated, while 56 percent agree that federal employees working for an executive branch such as the Internal Revenue Service or the Department of Education should also. Gotta get shots. But 71 percent of Republicans and 74 percent of those who voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020 still oppose a vaccine mandate for those federal activists.

In late August, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banned government vaccine mandates in his state, one of several Republicans who have opposed vaccine requirements, stating, “No government entity can provide any person with COVID-19.” Can’t force you to get the vaccine.” Some workers affected by these mandates — including the military, the health care industry and United — are suing their employers to withhold the mandates.

Older Americans, who are at greater risk for serious consequences from COVID-19 infection and are the highest immunization age group in the US, were more likely than younger Americans to support employer-required vaccines. Among Gen Xers and Millennials, 43 percent said they think bosses should be able to tell their employees that they should get vaccinated, which is much lower than the 68 percent of members of the silent generation who did so. It was said This aligns with an overall trend of fewer people age 12 and older than 83 percent of Americans age 65 and older (65 percent).

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And yet, a larger percentage of people aged 18 to 40 said the prolonged pandemic had taken a toll on their well-being, compared to those aged 75 and older. Overall, more than a third of Americans say they are more stressed than they were before the pandemic, according to this latest survey. For Gen Zs and Millennials, that number was 37 percent, but dropped to a slightly lower 30 percent among the oldest Americans. People in rural areas, at 41 percent, were also more likely to say they now feel more stressed than people living in more densely populated areas, such as small towns and suburbs, both at 33 percent.

US approval divided over Biden

A sense of unease, on top of dwindling support for Biden’s latest pandemic response measures, likely won’t benefit his political capital, especially at a moment when significant parts of his ambitious economic agenda are on the line. Americans are divided over what Biden is doing as president, with nearly half of Americans – 46 percent – saying they disapprove, including 91 percent of Republicans and 50 percent of independents. Another 45 percent say they approve, including 87 percent of Democrats.

Overall, 17 percent of Americans said they strongly approve of his time in the White House, the lowest since his inauguration.


Megan McGrew/PBS NewsHour. chart by

Biden’s worst approval rating ever – 43 percent – came from a poll earlier this month, amid the chaotic withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, according to Marist data. Since then, the Biden administration has been criticized for its treatment of migrants along the way out, many of them from Haiti, along the US-Mexico border and some of the administration’s messages around the coronavirus pandemic – including signaling for universal COVID-19. The support included—the first 19 vaccine boosters from the Food and Drug Administration had scrutinized the data—even his most ardent supporters wondered whether politics was playing a huge role in public health.

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Jeffrey Engel, who directs the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said Biden’s agenda could seem “in jeopardy.” But looking back to American history, Engel said people should remember that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had to make significant concessions to pass unprecedented New Deal programs and lift the country from the Great Depression.

“People have forgotten that even a popular president with a strong majority does politics with his own party,” Engel said.

Looking forward to the mid-term 2022

Biden’s ambitious spending plans on infrastructure and other social and environmental priorities have sparked a first in partisan conflicts over the country’s debt ceiling – all at the same time Congress has to fund the government or face another shutdown Thursday. face the deadline.

Right now, the main debate is over how to keep the lights on. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has introduced a stopgap bill to keep the government funded until December, which will help avoid the shutdown for now.

But many on Capitol Hill are also well aware of what’s at stake in the long term, with midterm elections a little over a year away. If the 2022 election takes place today, 46 percent of US registered voters said they would vote for Democratic candidates, and 38 percent said they would support Republicans. However, 12 percent said they don’t know yet, suggesting those polls, and who controls Congress during the second half of Biden’s presidency, are far from settled.

Nation World News Desk
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