President Joe Biden announced this week that he would be imposing a new stringent set of vaccine requirements for federal workers, large employers, and health care staff in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19.
The new requirement is set to apply to over 100 million Americans; about two-thirds of the workforce in the nation.
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us. Vaccinated America is growing frustrated with the 80 million people who have not received shots and are fueling the spread of the virus. While America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago when I took office, I need to tell you a second fact: We’re in a tough stretch and it could last for a while,” Biden said.
The new plan requires the Labor Department to force businesses with 100 or more employees to either get everyone vaccinated or get tested once a week. Companies that refuse could face thousands of dollars in fines per employee who refuses to comply.
Biden also signed an executive order that requires every government employee to be vaccinated against Covid-19, and they can’t opt for regular testing. The same standard will also be applied to employees of contractors who do business with the federal government.
“300,000 educators in federal Head Start programs must be vaccinated, governors need to require vaccinations for school teachers and staff. The 17 million health care workers at facilities receiving funds from Medicare and Medicaid will also need to be fully vaccinated, we’re expanding the mandate to hospitals, home care facilities and dialysis centers around the country. We have the tools to combat the virus if we come together to use those tools,” Biden said.
The new “emergency temporary standard” from the Labor Department will also require all large employers to give their employees paid time off to receive their vaccines if they haven’t done so yet. “If businesses don’t comply, the government will take enforcement actions, which could include substantial fines up to nearly $14,000 per violation,” according to officials.
“Each employer will decide exactly what they want to do, but what we’re saying through the Department of Labor rule making process is a minimum of testing once a week or full vaccination,” a senior administration official said.
“Federal employees will have 75 days to get vaccinated or risk being fired. The expectation is if you want to work in the federal government or want to be a contractor, you need to be vaccinated,” press secretary Jen Psaki said.
Additionally, Biden announced a slew of new health and safety measures as a means of slowing the spread of the Delta variant. The Defense Production Act will be evoked in order to accelerate the production of rapid Covid tests. The administration is hoping to send 25 million free tests to US health clinics.
Biden overall unveiled a six-pillar plan to cobatting the pandemic. According to reports, “The six pillars of Biden’s plan include: vaccinating the unvaccinated; further protecting the vaccinated through booster shots; keeping schools open; increasing testing and requiring masks; protecting the economic recovery; and improving care for those with Covid-19.”
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.