A recent article on CNN.com detailed the new vaccine requirements for certain key employers set-forth by President Biden amid the recent surge of the delta variant of COVID-19 in the U.S. The new rules apply to two-thirds of the American workforce including federal workers, large employers and healthcare workers, which could total to as much as 100 million Americans.
This is the administration’s biggest vaccine requirement yet, with Biden stating that the 80 million unvaccinated Americans are prolonging the spread of COVID-19, despite full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of the Pfizer vaccine.
The direction set forth in the Biden administration’s plan required the Labor Department to force all businesses with 100 ore more employees to ensure that all their employees are vaccinated, or COVID-19 tested weekly, or that employer could be fined for noncompliance. Additionally, large employers will be required to give their workers paid time off to acquire their vaccine or face fines up to nearly $14,000 per incident.
In addition, any healthcare workers from facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds are now required to be fully vaccinated, including hospitals, home health workers and dialysis centers, totaling 17 million healthcare employees.
Finally, Biden announced his executive orders forcing federal government employees and federal contractors to be vaccinated, without an option of regular testing in order to opt out stating that the federal government should be a model for other businesses. Federal employees have 75 days to vaccinate or risk losing their jobs with limited exemptions for workers claiming medical or religious reasons for not getting vaccinated.
The U.S. Postal Service, as a quasi-independent agency, would fall under the more than 100,000 employees’ rule and will be requiring vaccination or mandatory weekly testing.
Biden declared that the 300,000 educators funded federally in Head Start programs must be vaccinated while asking state governors to make similar requirements for teachers and staff.
These proclamations come as COVID-19 surges amongst the unvaccinated due to the Delta variant, with a large increase in hospitalizations and deaths. Where the administration was once cautious against vaccine mandates, they are now embracing them as vaccine reluctance continues to plague certain parts of America.
Biden Administration officials conceded that the requirements were likely to be challenged in court, but they hoped that for the time being the federal rules would allow businesses who want to require vaccines could do so easily. Officials also stated that the rules were a minimum bar, and this will allow them to go further including requiring the vaccine without a testing alternative.
Biden also announced major expansions to the country’s free testing program, which is seen as particularly vital to slowing COVID-19 as children head back to the classroom. In his speech, Biden also asked for large entertainment venues across the country to require proof of vaccination or negative tests from customers. Finally, Biden declared that the Transportation Safety Administration would be doubling fines on passengers who did not comply with plane mask requirements.
Read more on CNN.com: Biden announces new vaccine mandates that could cover 100 million Americans