The president of the United States, Joe Biden, ordered this Thursday the mandatory vaccination against COVID-19 of all employees of the federal government, and launched a plan to also force most of the workers of the private companies of the country. This is the most resounding step so far by Biden, in his attempt to increase the vaccination rate in the United States, at a time when the delta variant has returned infections to unprecedented levels since January and causes more than a thousand deaths every day , practically all of unvaccinated people.
“We have been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and their refusal (to get vaccinated) has cost everyone,” Biden assured the nearly 80 million Americans who qualify for the vaccine but still refuse to do so. . During a speech at the White House, Biden announced a series of regulations that in total, he predicted, will affect about 100 million workers, “two-thirds” of the nation’s workforce.
First, he signed a decree that establishes a vaccination mandate for the 2.1 million employees of the United States federal government, who until now had the option not to be vaccinated if they underwent COVID-19 tests on a regular basis.
A second executive order establishes the same requirement for all federal government contractors, and Biden emphasized that those who want to work with his executive must guarantee that “their personnel are vaccinated.”
Those vaccination mandates will also apply to employees at most US healthcare facilities that receive federal subsidies from the Medicare or Medicaid programs, affecting about 50,000 healthcare providers across the country.
The third measure will be, if it is implemented, the most significant: the president announced that the Department of Labor will publish an emergency rule that will affect all companies with 100 or more employees, in which at least 80 million people work.
These companies must ensure that their workers are vaccinated with the full schedule or, otherwise, force them to show a negative test result at least once a week. “The time to wait is over. This is not about freedom or personal choice. It is about protecting yourself and those around you,” the president stressed.
The challenge of meeting this measure
According to legal experts, the Department of Labor has the authority to impose such a rule, but that does not mean that it cannot face demands from Republican politicians, who oppose such mandates, and it is not clear whether it will be easy for companies. implement the measure.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem called Biden’s corporate measure “unconstitutional” and warned in a tweet that she will go to court to try to overthrow it. Biden recalled that many large companies in the country already force all employees to be vaccinated, such as the United airline; or they have taken measures that are close to a similar mandate, such as Walmart, McDonald’s, Disney or the television network of conservative tinge Fox News.
Biden’s plan also seeks to improve the situation in the country’s schools, where in some cases there have already been outbreaks that have forced schools to close: the president announced the mandatory vaccination of the almost 300,000 teachers who work in an early education program known as Head Start.
In addition, he promised to stand up to the Republican governors and politicians who have tried to prohibit the mandates of masks or vaccines in schools, by reiterating that his Government will compensate the salary of any superintendent or teacher who may be deprived of his salary for “doing the right thing. “. “If these governors do not help us end the pandemic, I will use my powers as president to get them to step aside,” he stressed.
Biden’s speech came shortly before the nation’s second-largest school district, Los Angeles, passed a vaccination mandate for all students 12 and older in the city’s public system, in addition to requiring it for teachers. and school personnel.
On the other hand, the US Transportation Security Agency announced that starting this Friday it will double the fines for passengers who refuse to wear a mask at airports or airplanes, which will be from 500 to 1,000 dollars initially and from up to 3,000 for repeat offenders. “And by the way, show some respect. The anger we see on television against flight attendants and others who are doing their job is wrong,” Biden denounced.
Finally, he explained that he will invest 2,000 million dollars to “buy almost 300 million rapid tests to distribute them in community health centers, food banks and schools”; and that both Amazon and Walmart and Kroger will sell COVID-19 home tests at cheap prices for at least three months.
53.3% of Americans have received the full schedule of COVID-19 vaccines, including 62.4% of those over 12 years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, en English).