Biden orders new vaccine rules for big employers

"This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated... This is totally unacceptable"

Taking direct aim at vaccine resistance in America, U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday announced sweeping new initiatives– including requiring all federal employees to get vaccinated against COVID 19 and ordering the U.S. Department of Labor to require that businesses with more than 100 employees have their workers vaccinated or tested weekly.

The new measures cover about two-thirds of all U.S. employees and are part of Biden's most aggressive steps yet to prod unvaccinated Americans to get the shots .

“The bottom line. We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated coworkers… My message to unvaccinated workers is this: What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see?... We've been patient, but our patience is wearing thin and your refusal has cost all of us, so please do the right thing."

The recent surge in cases from the fast spreading Delta variant has posed increased risk not just to the country … but also to a president who ran on promises to get control over the virus and who earlier this year said the country was "closer than ever to declaring our independence’ from the pandemic.

Despite a full-throttled campaign by the Biden administration urging all eligible Americans to get the free vaccines, just over 53% of Americans are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC“

"But just don’t take it from me. Listen to the voices of the unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breaths, saying ‘if only I had gotten vaccinated’. If only. It’s a tragedy. Please don’t let it become yours.”

Under Biden's plan, the administration will also require vaccinations for more than 17 million healthcare workers at hospitals and other institutions…And seeks to ramp up testing capacity for the virus.

Biden will use his authority under the Defense Production Act to spur industry to accelerate production of tests, and order big retailers including Walmart, Amazon and Kroger to sell the tests ‘at cost’ to make them more affordable..

But the plan is likely to face legal challenges and was immediately disparaged by Biden's Republican opposition. It could be months before the mandates' impact is felt.

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