On Thursday, President Biden imposed new, strict vaccine requirements on all federal employees, large employers, and health care workers in an effort to manage the latest rise in coronavirus cases.
These new requirements could apply to nearly two-thirds of the American workforce, which means as many as 100 million Americans may be affected. Biden’s plan directs the Labor Department to enforce the rule that all businesses with 100 or more employees make sure their workers are either fully vaccinated or submit to once a week testing (CNN).
Companies found to be noncompliant could see thousands of dollars in fines per employee. This also extends to U.S. Postal Service workers, as the USPS employs over 640,000 people. All government employees have also been mandated to be vaccinated via Biden’s additional executive order, which has no exemption or regular testing option.
17 million health care workers who work at facilities receiving funds from Medicare and Medicaid must also be fully vaccinated, which expands the mandate to country-wide hospitals, home care facilities, and dialysis centers.
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” said Biden, directing his stricter approach toward the 80 million Americans who still remain unvaccinated. He also commented, “This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you, the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love. My job as president is to protect all Americans” (Fox News).
Administration officials admitted that it would be possible for the vaccine requirement for large employers to be challenged in court, however, their goal was to provide a shield of federal rules for businesses who willingly require vaccines for their employees.
Indeed, Biden and his administration have received serious backlash following Thursday’s address. Republican governors from several states including Texas, Missouri, and Georgia have threatened to push back. The Texas Tribune reports that Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has resisted vaccine mandates throughout the state, called Biden’s new requirements “an assault on private businesses” adding that “Texas is already working to halt this power grab.”
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon said he told the state’s attorney general “to stand prepared to take all actions to oppose this administration’s unconstitutional overreach of executive power. Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee said the RNC “will sue the administration to protect Americans and their liberties.”
The president, however, brushed off concerns about political tension. “A distinct minority of Americans – supported by a distinct minority of elected officials – are keeping us from turning the corner. … If these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way” (The Washington Post).
A new poll found that 72 percent of unvaccinated Americans would quit their job if they were required to get the vaccine with no exemption.
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: WRCBTV.COM
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