President Joe Biden imposed stringent new vaccine rules on federal workers, large employers and health care staff in a sweeping attempt to contain the latest surge of COVID-19.
The new requirements could apply to as many as 100 million Americans - close to two-thirds of the American workforce - and amount to Biden"s strongest push yet to require vaccines for much of the country.
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us”, - Biden said, his tone hardening toward Americans who still refuse to receive a vaccine despite ample evidence of their safety and full approval of one - the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID19 vaccine - from the US Food and Drug Administration.
He said vaccinated America was growing “frustrated” with the 80 million people who have not received shots and are fueling the spread of the virus. And he acknowledged the new steps would not provide a quick fix.
“While America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago when I took office, I need to tell you a second fact: We’re in a tough stretch and it could last for awhile”, - Biden said in an early evening speech from the White House.
At the center of Biden’s new plan is directing the Labor Department to require all businesses with 100 or more employees ensure their workers are either vaccinated or tested once a week, an expansive step the President took after consultation with administration health officials and lawyers. Companies could face thousands of dollars in fines per employee if they don’t comply.
US Postal Service workers would fall under that rule, a senior administration official told CNN, and employees will be required to be vaccinated or face mandatory weekly testing. The Postal Service, a quasi independent agency, employees more than 640,000 people.