Speaking at the White House, President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered sweeping new federal vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans.
Using his most forceful language to-date, Biden announced policies requiring most federal employees to get COVID-19 vaccinations and pushing large employers to have their workers inoculated or tested weekly. These new rules would apply to apply to about two-thirds of all U.S. employees, those who work for businesses with more than 100 workers.
Speaking directly to unvaccinated Americans, Biden said: "We've been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us."
He added: "What makes it incredibly more frustrating is we have the tools to combat covid-19 and a distinct minority of Americans supported by a distinct minority of officials are keeping us from turning the corner."
"The expectation is if you want to work in the federal government or be a contractor, you need to be vaccinated," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday. Federal employees will have about 75 days to get fully vaccinated from the time the executive order is signed, Psaki added.
In a statement, the administration outlined the plan, noting: "Since July, the share of job postings that require vaccination are up 90%. And we know these requirements work. At the beginning of August, when Tyson Foods announced its requirement—only 45% of its workforce had gotten a shot. Today, it stands at 72%, meaning half of Tyson’s unvaccinated workers have now gotten a shot—well ahead of the company’s November 1st deadline. After United Airlines announced its vaccination requirement, more than half of its unvaccinated employees went out and got vaccinated with weeks left to go before the deadline. In Washington State, the weekly vaccination rate jumped 34% after the Governor announced requirements for state workers."
The plan contains these key provisions:
Several states have already taken issue with the announcement. Governor Greg Abbott of Texas - who just two weeks ago banned Covid vaccine mandates in Texas, regardless of FDA approval status - tweeted: “Biden’s vaccine mandate is an assault on private businesses. Texas is already working to halt this power grab.”
"I will pursue every legal option available to the state of Georgia to stop this blatantly unlawful overreach by the Biden administration," Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted.
On a Facebook HR forum, reactions were mixed. The majority of respondents expressed both relief at having it mandated, since it takes any blame off of the employer, as well as concern about implementation processes. A vocal minority expressed outrage, complaining that their "freedoms" were being violated.
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