By: Kuhu Badgi — Political Editor
The Biden Administration recently announced its plan to enforce vaccine mandates for federal employees and businesses. The new initiative is a result of the rising Delta variant cases which are spreading rapidly across the country, largely due to the nearly 80 million unvaccinated Americans.
Biden’s plan outlines six different areas of focus to alleviate almost all of the social and economic repercussions of the increase in cases. “This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. And it’s caused by the fact that despite America having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot” said President Biden.
Though consumers have not halted and there are very few restrictions on business activity compared to previous surges, the rapid increase in cases and risk have stopped many workers from accepting jobs across the country, which has left businesses understaffed. Biden plans to use vaccination mandates as a solution to solve regional and national economic downturns.
“The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing. Nearly three-quarters of the eligible have gotten at least one shot, but one-quarter have not gotten any. That’s nearly 80 million Americans not vaccinated. And in a country as large as ours, that’s 25 percent minority. That 25 percent can cause a lot of damage — and they are,” said Biden.
The Biden Administration plans to enact new vaccination requirements citing the repercussions of unvaccinated Americans as harmful to the revitalization of the country, Biden signed Executive Order EO 14043, which requires all federal employees to be vaccinated by November 22nd. Biden says that he plans to extend this mandate to health care workers to all medical facilities across the country. The Labor Department will also be mandating vaccinations for all private-sector businesses with more than 100 employees. “We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers. We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America” the President said.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki explained how this mandate will be enforced using a task force in her press briefing. “The interagency task force will provide a ramp-up period, and we expect federal employees will have about 75 days to be fully vaccinated. That gives people more than enough time, in our view, to start and complete their vaccination series.”
The next part of Biden’s plan aims to protect those who have already been vaccinated against the Coronavirus. “The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing” the President stated proceeding to cite the recent data indicating that “there is one confirmed positive case per 5,000 fully vaccinated Americans per day.” Though booster shots have not yet been approved for the public, the President shared his plan of increasing access to the vaccines as soon as he is authorized by the FDA to do so.
The third part of Biden’s plan addresses the unvaccinated children in schools under 12 years of age, who have not yet been approved for the vaccination. President Biden once again urged parents to get vaccinated to keep their children safe at home and stated that safety measures including masking, social distancing, and contact tracing must continue in schools. “The safest thing for your child 12 and older is to get them vaccinated. They get vaccinated for a lot of things. That’s it. Get them vaccinated.” He also shared his intention of increasing the teacher vaccination rate from 90% to a full 100% with the help of the Defense Department.
Next, The Biden Administration intends to increase testing and masking by lowering the cost of COVID-19 rapid tests with the help of retailers who “will start to sell at-home rapid test kits at cost for the next three months. This is an immediate price reduction for at-home test kits for up to 35 percent reduction.”
The Transportation Security Administration will also start imposing fines for passengers who do not adhere to safety precautions on public transport. To aid small businesses as they suffer from the pandemic, Biden plans to expand loan programs through the Small Business Administration.
Finally, he plans to increase the number of response teams and increase the available therapeutics for those infected. “I’m announcing that the Defense Department will double the number of military health teams that they’ll deploy to help their fellow Americans in hospitals around the country.”
Biden reiterated the main message of his administration in addressing COVID. “Get vaccinated.”