President Joe Biden announced on Thursday all federal workers will have to be vaccinated (including contractors) as well as work being done by the Department of Labor to issue a rule requiring employers with 100 workers or more to make sure their workforce is fully vaccinated or tested weekly.
A senior administration official told media a violation could come with a $14,000 fine. Biden also issued encouragement to those in charge of sports and entertainment venues to require vaccination or a negative COVID test for entry.
In addition, Biden is ordering most health care facilities to require the vaccine as a condition of Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement. He took to task governors who are not allowing schools to mandate masks. Finally, he is making testing more accessible.
Biden immediately blamed the unvaccinated when he opened his speech.
“Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated,” he said. “We’re in a tough stretch and it could last for a while. This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated and it’s caused by the fact that despite America having unprecedented and successful vaccination programs, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who failed to get the shot.”
Biden claimed the unvaccinated are “overcrowding our hospitals, overrunning our Emergency Rooms and Intensive Care Units leaving no room for someone with a heart attack.”
The measures will take time to have a full impact, he added.
“This is not about freedom or personal choice, it’s about protecting yourself and those around you,” Biden said. “My job as President is to protect all Americans.”
Biden said some of the biggest companies are already requiring employees to be vaccinated or a weekly negative test.
“Bottom line, we’re going to protect vaccinated workers from their unvaccinated co-workers,” he said.
Anyone working in hospitals, home healthcare facilities or other medical facilities treating Medicaid or Medicare patients will have to be vaccinated as well.
An executive order will require all executive branch federal employees to be vaccinated as well as federal contractors.
“If you want to work with the federal government, get vaccinated,” he said. “If you want to do business with us, get vaccinated.”
Biden issued a call to doctors to reach out to unvaccinated patients in the next two weeks and encourage them to receive the shot.
He added that boosters will be available as soon as they are approved. He touted that America has donated 140 million doses of the vaccine to other countries.
“That’s American leadership on the global stage and that’s just the beginning,” he said.
Parents should get their eligible teens vaccinated, he said. Parents with children not old enough to be vaccinated should get vaccinated themselves and make sure all caregivers are vaccinated.
“Tonight, I’m calling on all governors to require vaccination for all teachers and staff,” he said. “To all school officials trying to do the right thing by our children, I’ll always be on your side.”
Biden said governors in some states are undermining locally elected officials and life-saving actions by threatening salaries and jobs over mask mandates.
“Talk about bullying in schools,” he said. “If these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as President to get them out of the way.”
He promised the federal government would restore 100 percent of any pay a state takes away from an educator.
The TSA will also double fines for travelers who do not wear masks.
After about 25 minutes of us-versus-them, vaccinated-versus-unvaccinated, Biden made a strange pitch for unity.
“We’re the United States of America,” he said. “There’s nothing, not a single thing we’re unable to do if we do it together. So let’s stay together.”