Although Houston Mayor stepped back from hints that he would make COVID vaccinations mandatory for city workers, opting instead for frequent testing of the unvaccinated, President Joe Biden took a more forceful step Thursday.
Possibly affecting as many as 100 million Americans, the measures called for by the President impose stringent vaccination and testing requirements for federal workers, employers of 100 people or more and health care workers.
Larger companies will have to either require their workers to be fully vaccinated or that they submit to COVID-19 testing once a week. Workers will be given paid time off to get vaccinated as well as for any recovery time needed from the shots. The requirements take effect immediately.
"Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are not vaccinated," Biden said. "We're in the tough stretch and it could last for a while," he added, referring to the highly contagious Delta variant.
"We've been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. The unvaccinated minority "can cause a lot of damage, and they are.
"This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated," he declared.
"To make matters worse there are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19 Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they're ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying of COVID in their communities." Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has issued executive orders forbidding any local government from requiring masks, but has not taken action against several groups including Houston ISD that did issue mask mandates in the hopes of lessening COVID spread in schools.
Health care workers at facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid will have to be fully vaccinated, affecting 17 million health care workers at nursing homes, hospitals, home healthcare. "If you're seeking care at a health facility you should be able to know that the people treating you are vaccinated.:
All executive branch employees will have to be vaccinated as well as those who have contracts with the federal government and there would be no exceptions, he said. If companies want to do business with the federal government, their employees will have to be vaccinated, he said.
Biden referenced a number of companies that already require all of their employees to be vaccinated. "United Airlines, Disney, Tyson Foods, and even Fox News."