President Joe Biden announced a new vaccine mandate for federal workers and contractors during his speech Thursday that limits the loopholes for unvaccinated employees.
The White House mentioned Biden’s upcoming speech earlier in the week, with an official saying that Biden will lay out a “six-pronged strategy” aimed at boosting vaccinations and fighting the Delta variant. Senior administration officials expanded on the upcoming speech Thursday afternoon, confirming that the president will sign an executive order mandating vaccinations for federal employees and contractors.
Biden announced at the end of July that federal government employees and contractors would need to confirm their vaccination status or undergo various hurdles, such as physical distancing and testing. Biden’s latest plan removes some of the loopholes for employees resistant to getting the vaccine, NBC News noted. (RELATED: ‘The Choice Is Yours’: In Line With CDC’s Mask Guidance, Biden Gives Americans An Ultimatum On Vaccines)
“I’ll require all federal employees to be vaccinated, all,” Biden said Thursday evening. “I’ve signed another executive order that will require federal contractors to do the same. If you want to work with the federal government, get vaccinated. If you want to do business with the federal government, vaccinate your workforce.”
“This is not about freedom or personal choice,” the president declared.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday that Biden’s upcoming announcement would affect Americans depending “on if you’re vaccinated or not.”
Psaki also alluded to more mandate requirements on MSNBC Thursday, confirming that Biden will “build on” the existing rules.
“He’s going to build on our mandates requirements, making it so that workers in the federal government or others have to get vaccinated, we’ve seen that work,” Psaki said. (RELATED: ‘The Choice Is Yours’: In Line With CDC’s Mask Guidance, Biden Gives Americans An Ultimatum On Vaccines)
In one of the biggest moves, Biden also announced that the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule aimed at private sector businesses. Anyone running a business with 100 or more employees will need to make sure workers are vaccinated or require weekly testing for unvaccinated employees, the president explained.
This new requirement will affect over 80 million workers in the private sector, and Biden explained that the vaccine requirements in his newest plan will affect roughly two-thirds of the workforce overall. Private sectors violating the rule could result in a fine of thousands of dollars per employee, administration officials said prior to Biden’s remarks.
The president’s “six-pronged strategy” will impact health care workers at Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals and health care settings, as well. Biden spoke about how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will now require vaccinations for workers in most of these settings.
This will affect around 50,000 providers and will cover most health care workers across America, according to the White House.
Biden also spoke about booster shots and discuss the administration’s continued efforts towards protecting children while keeping schools open. As part of this effort, Biden announced that staff in Head Start programs, Department of Defense schools and in Bureau of Indian Education-Operated schools will be required to be vaccinated.
“Please get your children vaccinated,” the president said, issuing a plea to parents. “What about children under the age of 12 who can’t get vaccinated? The best way for a parent to protect them starts at home. Every parent, every teen sibling, every caregiver around them should be vaccinated.”
He also continued pushing states to adopt vaccine requirements for all school employees and provide more funding for school districts as they try to reopen schools. The president is pushing schools to set up regular testing in an effort to protect children from COVID-19, marking an expanded approach in the fight against the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) imposed stricter guidelines at the end of July amid the variant’s rise, recommending that even vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors if living in “substantial and high transmission” areas of the country. At the same time, the CDC said it was telling all students in grades K-12 to mask up, no matter their vaccination status.
Biden mentioned various other initiatives in what marks the administration’s toughest stance on unvaccinated Americans to date. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will double its fines for unmasked travelers, Biden said. He slammed travelers who have acted out against the mask requirements, calling the behavior “wrong” and “ugly.”
“If you break the rules, be prepared to pay,” Biden said. “And by the way: Show some respect. The anger you see on television toward flight attendants and others doing their job is wrong. It’s ugly.”