Sept. 9, 2021 — President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a host of new plans to rein in COVID-19’s runaway transmission in the U.S., including sweeping vaccine mandates that will affect 100 million American workers, nearly two-thirds of the country’s workforce.
“As your president, I’m announcing tonight a new plan to get more Americans vaccinated to combat those blocking public health,” he said.
As part of a six-part plan unveiled in a speech from the State Dining Room of the White House, Biden said he would require vaccinations for nearly 4 million federal workers and the employees of companies that contract with the federal government.
He has also directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop a rule that will require large employers — those with at least 100 employees — to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly.
Biden said the federal government will require staff at federally funded Head Start programs and schools to be vaccinated. He’s also calling on all states to mandate vaccines for teachers.
“A distinct minority of Americans, supported by a distinct minority of elected officials, are keeping us from turning the corner,” Biden said. “These pandemic politics, as I refer to them, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die.”
One public health official said he was glad to see the president’s bold action.
“What I saw today was the federal government trying to use its powers to create greater safety in the American population,” said Ashish K. Jha, MD, Dean of the school of public health at Brown University, in a call with reporters after the speech.
But the plan was not well received by all.
“I will pursue every legal option available to the state of Georgia to stop this blatantly unlawful overreach by the Biden Administration,” said Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who is a Republican, in a Tweet.
In addition to the new vaccination requirements, Biden said extra doses would be on the way for people who have already been fully vaccinated in order to protect against waning immunity, starting on Sept. 20. But he noted that those plans would be contingent on the FDA’s approval for third doses and the CDC’s recommendation of the shots.