On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for as many as 100 million Americans.
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Biden outlined a six-prong approach that he believes could reduce the impact of the Delta variant. The list is as follows:
1. Increasing vaccination rates
2. More protection for vaccinated people
3. Keeping schools open
4. Beefing up testing and masking
5. Protecting the economic recovery
6. Improving care for those who have COVID-19
"The measures, these are going to take time to have full impact, but if we implement them, I believe and the scientists indicate that the months ahead 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 by keeping businesses open," Biden said.
In the White House briefing, the president said the country has made significant improvements in its handling of the pandemic. To date, more than 175 million Americans have fully vaccinated, Biden said.
“This progres is real...but we’re in the tough stretch that could last for a while,” Biden said, adding that the pandemic now belongs primarily to those Americans who are unvaccinated.
Biden also announced the Department of Labor is “developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more that together employ over eighty million workers to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show at least a negative test a week.”
He went on to mention many major companies have implemented this including Tyson’s Food, Disney, and Fox News.
“This is not about freedom or personal choice,” he said. “ It’s about protecting yourself and the people around you. The people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love.”
Biden also said he signed an executive order that would require all federal workers to be vaccinated with no alternative option of regular COVID testing. He added that employees of those who do business with the federal government will also face the same requirement.
“If you want to do business with the federal government, vaccinate your workforce," he said.
Earlier Thursday the press had many questions about why the White House decided to change mandates so soon after implementing the option to be vaccinated - or - face weekly testing.
“We’ve seen over the past couple of months not only the threat of [the Delta variant] but the importance of taking bold and ambitious steps to get people vaccinated,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
“Obviously the federal workforce is one of the largest in the country and we would like to be a model to what we think other businesses and organizations should do around the country.”
Psaki said the administration is looking to build on the measures that have already been taken. That includes vaccine mandates for government entities, including the military, and working with the private sector on vaccine requirements.
During the press conference, Biden issued a message to the unvaccinated:
“What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? … Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We've been patient but our patience is wearing thin. Your refusal has cost all of us. So please do the right thing.”