Freeport, NY: Daniel Merlos, 15, of Freeport, New York, receives a Covid-19 vaccine at Freeport High School, where the Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital is serving all eligible students, staff, and residents of the COVID- 19 vaccinations provided, 2021.
Steve Pfost | News day | Getty Images
President Joe Biden’s recent vaccination push marks the government’s most aggressive attempt to bring the rampant coronavirus pandemic under control.
Critics see the President’s move as a reversal of his earlier promise to avoid vaccination mandates. However, federal health officials believe this is the next step in the fight against the highly contagious Delta variant, which is killing more than 1,500 Americans daily and filling hospitals with unvaccinated bags to the brim, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data.
“We will protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated workers,” said Biden on Thursday when the plan was announced. “We will reduce the spread of Covid-19 by increasing the percentage of the vaccinated workforce in companies across America.”
The multi-pronged approach affects hundreds of public and private companies and tens of millions of American workers. It mandates vaccines and excludes testing opportunities for federal government employees, including those in the health sector, and calls for harsh penalties for those who fail to comply.
Here’s what you need to know about Biden’s latest offering to get more Americans vaccinated.
If vaccination is compulsory, without the possibility of testing
Federal employees and contractors working with the government are facing renewed vaccine mandates and no longer have the option of regular Covid tests.
“If you want to work with the federal government and do business with us, get vaccinated,” Biden said. “If you want to do business with the federal government, vaccinate your workforce.”
Healthcare workers are also subject to strict requirements. The president has ordered all healthcare facilities that receive federal funding from Medicaid or Medicare to prescribe vaccines for their employees without the option of testing.
Previously, the Biden government only ordered vaccines for employees in U.S. nursing homes who receive federal funding. Some states, including New York and Maine, had already required vaccines for healthcare workers.
The new regulations affect more than 17 million healthcare workers in more than 50,000 hospitals and healthcare facilities in the United States
“If you are seeking care in a health facility, you should know that the people you are treating are vaccinated,” Biden said. “Simple, straightforward, period.”
The president also ordered that all employees of the federal government’s Head Start programs be vaccinated. The order extends to schools owned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of Defense, which affects a total of approximately 300,000 people, according to Chalkbeat, an education news organization.
Where vaccinations or weekly tests are mandatory
Despite the broad scope of the president’s push, most U.S. workers, more than 80 million, will still have the opportunity to prove they don’t have the virus by undergoing weekly Covid tests.
To speed up the pace of daily vaccinations, which have slowed after rising in mid-August, the President ordered the Ministry of Labor to enact a new rule requiring any company with more than 100 employees to provide vaccines for its employees or weekly Covid- Requiring tests for workers who give religious or health reasons not to be vaccinated. However, employers are likely to look more closely at these reasons for deregistering in the future.
The new rule will be implemented by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OSHA). OSHA may issue an interim emergency standard if it proves that employees are at risk and that the proposed regulation can prevent that risk.
Employers are also directed to give paid time off for workers to get vaccinated. This applies to both the public and private sectors.
“Nobody should lose their salary to get vaccinated or to take a loved one to the vaccination,” said Biden.
Consequences in the event of rule violations
Most Americans support vaccine mandates in the workplace, with 62% of Americans supporting the idea, according to a USA Today and Ipsos poll in August.
Still, of the 29% of unvaccinated US voters, 83% say they are not planning on life-saving injections, a new CNBC poll shows.
Employees who fail to meet the new mandates could face a number of consequences, including termination, as companies feel pressures to adapt.
Businesses face a fine of $ 13,600 per breach of the OSHA rule, although the new rules may take some time to implement and enforce. OSHA is experiencing steady downsizing and currently provides one inspector for every 83,000 workers, according to the AFL-CIO, the largest trade union confederation in the United States
United States President Joe Biden speaks about coronavirus protection in schools during a visit to Brookland Middle School in Washington, DC on September 10, 2021.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
Appeal to unvaccinated Americans
In his announcement, Biden asked why 80 million Americans still haven’t received the shots after they were made free, accessible and approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“What else is there to wait? What else is there to see?” said Biden. “We have been patient, but our patience is failing.”
Biden appealed to those running large entertainment venues, sports arenas and cinemas to require vaccination or proof of a negative test for entry. New York City and San Francisco already require proof of vaccination for activities such as eating indoors and attending movies and entertainment events, with New York City requiring proof of at least one dose and San Francisco proof of full vaccination.
Biden also urged doctors across the country to “reach out to unvaccinated patients … and ask them personally to get the injection.”
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 75% of adults in the US have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, and about 54% of all Americans are fully vaccinated. Experts still disagree on the percentage of a population that needs to be vaccinated in order for the population to achieve herd immunity, although estimates are between 70 and 90%.
“This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and the people around you, ”said Biden.