President Joe Biden yesterday ordered US employers with 100+ workers to require COVID-19 vaccinations or show weekly negative test results.
He said the US Department of Labor is currently developing this emergency rule, which will also require these employers to give workers paid time off in order get vaccinated.
The measure will impact 80 million workers or about two-thirds of all US employees. CNN reported that companies could face thousands of dollars in fines per employee if they do not comply with the mandate.
“The bottom line is, we are going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers,” Biden said, as he pointed to large employers such as United Airlines, Disney, and Tyson Food that are already requiring employees to be vaccinated. Other such employers include Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Heinz, and The Washington Post, for example.
Biden also made an appeal to the live venue, entertainment sector, saying, “To those of you running large venues, from sports arenas to concert venues to move theaters, please require folks to get vaccinated or show a negative test as a condition to entry.”
This order by the president is part of his broader six-step strategy to get the pandemic under control.
Among the other initiatives is an executive order that requires all executive branch federal employees to be vaccinated. Another executive order will require all federal contractors to do the same.
“If you want to work with the federal government and [or] do business with us, get vaccinated,” Biden said.
In the healthcare field, Biden already had announced vaccination requirements for all nursing home workers who treat patients on Medicare and Medicaid. He is now expanding that order to include hospitals, home healthcare facilities, or other medical facilities. This initiative covers approximately 17 million healthcare workers.
The president also urged physicians to try and persuade their unvaccinated patients to get COVID-19 shots and called for children 12 and older to get vaccinated. For children who are under 12 and can’t be vaccinated yet, Biden urged their parents, teen siblings and caregivers to get vaccinated.
He recommended that teachers throughout the country get vaccinated (90% of them already are), and asked schools to continue implementing safety measures such a testing, masking, adequate ventilation systems, and social distancing. Biden also called on all governors to require vaccinations for all teachers and staff.
Another piece of the president’s plan is protecting the economic recovery. To that end, Biden said the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program will be expanded from its current limit of up to $500,000 in borrowing to up to $2 million.
“These low interest, long-term loans require no repayment for two years and can be used to hire and retain workers, purchase inventory, or even pay down higher cost debt racked up since the pandemic began,” Biden said.
The president said the nation has the tools to combat the virus, but urged the country to come together to use those tools. “We remain at a critical moment … we have to just finish the job with truth, science, confidence and together as one nation,” he said.
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