In his most forceful pandemic actions and words, President Joe Biden ordered sweeping new federal vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans — private-sector employees as well as health care workers and federal contractors — in an all-out war on the surging COVID-19 delta variant.
Speaking at the White House Thursday, Biden sharply criticized the tens of millions of Americans who are not yet vaccinated, despite months of availability and incentives.
“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” he said, all but biting off his words. The unvaccinated minority “can cause a lot of damage, and they are.”
New Vaccination Mandates
The six pillars of Biden's plan include: vaccinating the unvaccinated; further protecting the vaccinated through booster shots; keeping schools open; increasing testing and requiring masks; protecting the economic recovery; and improving care for those with Covid-19. Key parts of the plan include;
All federal workers and contractors must get vaccinated.
Private employers with 100 or more workers will have to require them to be vaccinated or tested weekly. Employers must provide paid time off for vaccination.
About 17 million health care workers in hospitals, clinics and other facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid payments must get vaccinated.
Some 300,000 employees of Head Start early childhood education and other federal education programs must get vaccinated.
Governors are urged to require vaccination for school district employees, and the federal government will continue to follow through with money for widespread testing in schools.
Stadiums, concert halls and other venues for large events are urged to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID test.
Mask requirements will continue for interstate travel and in federal buildings. The Transportation Security Administration will double fines on airline, train and other travelers who refuse to mask up.
The number of pharmacies offering free testing will be expanded to 10,000.
Walmart, Amazon and Kroger will offer at-home COVID tests at cost, about a 35% savings for consumers.
More than 177 million Americans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus but confirmed cases have shot up in recent weeks to an average of about 140,000 per day with on average about 1,000 deaths, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most of the spread — and the vast majority of severe illness and death — is occurring among those not yet fully vaccinated. So-called breakthrough infections in vaccinated people occur, but tend to be far less dangerous.
Federal officials are moving ahead with plans to begin administering booster shots of the mRNA vaccines to bolster protection against the more transmissible delta variant on September 20th.
The 20th Anniversary of 9-11
President Joe Biden and the First Lady will visit all three 9/11 memorial sites to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks tomorrow, and pay their respects to the nearly 3,000 people killed that day.
Biden will visit ground zero in New York City, the Pentagon, and the memorial outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the passengers of United Flight 93 forced down before it could reach its intended destination — the U.S. Capitol.
Biden's itinerary is similar to the one President Barack Obama followed in 2011 on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Obama's visit to New York City coincided with the opening of a memorial at the site where the two World Trade Center towers once stood.
Tomorrow’s anniversary falls less than two weeks after the end of the U.S. War in Afghanistan. The war was launched weeks after the 9/11 attacks to retaliate against the al-Qaida plotters and the Taliban, who provided them a haven.
Considered America’s longest war, it lasted over 20 years, had 100,000+ military and civilian casualties, and ultimately surrendered Afghanistan back to the control of the Taliban.