President Joe Biden on Thursday announced sweeping new mandates to compel public and private employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine, affecting as many as 100 million Americans.
Biden made his message clear from the White House: The minority of Americans who won’t get the shot is keeping the country from turning the corner on the pandemic.
“The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals or overrun emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack or pancreatitis or cancer,” Biden said.
WATCH: President Biden announces new vaccine requirements.
"We can reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans, decrease hospitalizations and deaths, and allow our children to go to school safely, and keep our economy strong." pic.twitter.com/2KEssCYutw
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) September 9, 2021
Biden reiterated that COVID-19 is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” adding that it is caused “by the fact that despite America having unprecedented and successful vaccination programs, despite the fact that for almost five months, three vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot.”
The U.S. is facing another surge of the pandemic fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant, averaging nearly 150,000 new coronavirus cases per day and roughly 1,500 deaths.
He made an emotional appeal to the unvaccinated, but he also gave every indication that his patience was wearing thin.
“What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? We’ve made vaccinations free, safe and convenient. the vaccine has FDA approval, over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot,” Biden said. “We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and the refusal has cost all of us. so please do the right thing.”Biden said. “Don’t take it from me – listen to the voices of unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds taking their final breath saying, ‘If only I’d gotten vaccinated.'”
The new rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or tested for the virus weekly. Also, workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.
BREAKING: Biden says Labor Dept. is developing emergency rule requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure workers are fully vaccinated or show a negative COVID test at least once a week
"We're going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated coworkers" pic.twitter.com/A4LjIs8wrJ
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 9, 2021
The President also signed an executive order requiring vaccinations for employees of the federal government and contractors, with no option to test out.
The plan also calls for allocating $2 billion toward the production of 280 million rapid and at-home Covid tests using the Defense Production Act and expands the federal government’s free Covid testing program to 10,000 pharmacies nationwide.
Federal workers and contractors will have 75 days to get fully vaccinated. Workers who don’t comply will be referred to their agencies’ human resources departments for counseling and discipline, to include potential termination.