President Joe Biden Thursday evening unveiled a six-point plan to combat the coronavirus, a plan that includes a vaccination mandate for every employee in businesses with 100 employees or more.
Employees who are not vaccinated would, instead, be able to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test in order to keep coming to work, Biden said during a televised address announcing the plan.
“Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot,” Biden said, speaking directly to people who have yet to receive the vaccine. “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us. So please, do the right thing.”
That mandate is being developed by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and is expected to impact more than 80 million workers, according to the White House. The plan would also make available to those workers paid time off they could use while waiting for the side effects of vaccination, which typically manifest as mild, flu-like symptoms, to pass.
It was the most dramatic move Biden has taken since his inauguration toward boosting vaccination uptake. But it was not the only one announced Thursday. Biden’s plan will:
♦ Require vaccinations for every federal, executive branch employee;
♦ Require vaccinations for every employee of every contractor that does business with the federal government;
♦ Require vaccinations for the 17 million people working at healthcare providers that receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement;
♦ Require vaccinations among teachers and staff at Head Start and Early Head Start programs, teachers and child and youth program personnel at the Department of Defense (DOD), and teachers and staff at Bureau of Indian Education-operated schools.
The plan announced Thursday included more than vaccination mandates, however. Biden also pledged to make new funding available for school districts where state-banned COVID-mitigation measures, such as mask mandates, were implemented, costing the district state funding.
“My plan also takes on elected officials and states that are undermining you,” he said, addressing the nation’s educators. “Right now, local school officials are trying to keep children safe in a pandemic, while their governor picks a fight with them.”
The president also announced he would use the Defense Production Act to increase the manufacture of coronavirus tests and that Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger have offered to sell rapid take-home tests at-cost for the next three months.
“This means that Americans will be able to buy these tests at their local retailers or online for up to 35 percent less starting by the end of this week,” a fact sheet on Whitehouse.gov explains. “The Administration has also taken action so that Medicaid must cover at-home tests for free for beneficiaries.”