Factbox-Biden's new COVID-19 plan includes vaccine, test mandates

·3-min read
U.S. President Biden speaks about labor unions at the White House in Washington

By Ahmed Aboulenein

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The White House unveiled a new plan https://www.reuters.com/world/us/biden-deliver-six-step-plan-covid-19-pandemic-2021-09-09 to combat COVID-19 as the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads and some 80 million eligible Americans remain unvaccinated.

The following are some of the details of the plan and who it affects:

EMPLOYEES OF PRIVATE BUSINESSES

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated, or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative COVID-19 test once a week.

This requirement will apply to over 80 million workers in private sector businesses, the White House said.

OSHA will also develop a rule requiring employers with more than 100 employees to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated or to recover if they suffer from vaccination side effects.

OSHA did not say when it planned to issue the new requirements.

HEALTHCARE WORKERS

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will require COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most healthcare facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, including hospitals, dialysis centers, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies.

This requirement will impact over 17 million healthcare workers at hospitals and other facilities that take these patients.

TESTING

President Joe Biden will use his authority under the Defense Production Act to procure nearly 280 million rapid point-of-care and over-the-counter at-home coronavirus tests, at a cost of $2 billion.

Walmart Inc, Amazon.com Inc, and Kroger Co will sell those tests at-cost for the next three months, or up to 35% less, starting by the end of this week. Medicaid will cover at-home tests at no costs for beneficiaries.

The Department of Health and Human Services will expand its free COVID-19 testing program to cover 10,000 pharmacies.

SCHOOLS

The administration will require that teachers and staff in Head Start Programs, Department of Defense schools, and Bureau of Indian Education-operated schools be vaccinated.

Biden will also call on all states to adopt vaccine requirements for all school employees.

LARGE GATHERINGS

Biden's plan calls on entertainment venues like sports arenas, large concert halls, and others where large groups of people gather to require that patrons be vaccinated or show a negative coronavirus test in order to enter.

TRANSIT

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will double fines for first-time offenders who fail to wear masks, effective Friday, and said repeat offenders could face fines as high as $3,000 under Biden's plan.

TSA said the new fines will "be $500-$1,000 for first offenders and $1,000-$3,000 for second offenders." Biden criticized travelers who were abusive toward flight attendants. "If you break the rules be prepared to pay. And by the way, show some respect."

(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein and David Shepardson; Editing by Heather Timmons, Bill Berkrot and Grant McCool)

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