Companies with at least 100 employees must require their employees get vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 tests under a new Biden administration plan to combat the coronavirus and encourage vaccination.
President Joe Biden is scheduled to outline a revamped federal strategy to address COVID-19 that includes far more invasive regulations and restrictions than the federal government has put in place to date. Part of Biden’s six-point plan involves cracking down on 100+ employee companies to push their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. As The Wall Street Journal reports:
All employers with 100 or more employees would have to require their workers to be vaccinated or undergo at least weekly Covid-19 testing under a new plan by President Biden to curb the spread of the pandemic, senior administration officials said.
The Labor Department in the coming weeks plans to issue an emergency temporary standard implementing the new requirement, which will cover 80 million private-sector workers, officials said. Businesses that don’t comply can face fines of up to $14,000 per violation, they said.
The employers will also have to give workers paid time off to get vaccinated or to recover from any side effects of getting vaccinated.
The requirement will be “enacted through a forthcoming rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that carries penalties of $14,000 per violation, an administration official said,” per The Associated Press. The White House would not say when the rule would take effect but suggested employees would have time to get vaccinated.
Biden is set to unveil the new requirements at 5 p.m. EST on Thursday. Biden is also expected to announce a vaccine mandate for all federal executive branch employees and companies that contract with the federal government. Those employees and contractors will not be given the option to submit to weekly COVID-19 tests.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki gave a preview of Biden’s new plan to combat COVID-19 in a press briefing on Wednesday. When asked about how Biden’s new plan would impact Americans, Psaki responded, “it depends on if you’re vaccinated or not.”
“There are — there are six new — there are six steps the President is announcing. There will be new components, as I noted and you noted. Some of that will be related to access to testing. Some will be related to mandates. Some will be related to how we ensure kids are protected in schools,” Psaki continued. “And we’ll have more — we’ll preview more tomorrow as all the pieces are finalized. But there will be new components that, sure, will of course impact people across the country. But we’re also all working together to get the virus under control, to return to our normal lives. And I know many people, I’m sure, are looking forward to hearing what the President has to say.”
It remains to be seen how such a mandate will play in red states with governors and legislators who have signaled resistance to such heavy-handed tactics such as vaccine or testing mandates. Governors Ron DeSantis in Florida and Greg Abbott in Texas have banned similar vaccine mandates in their respective states.
Some parts of the federal government have already instituted or announced vaccine mandates for their employees. The U.S. military announced last month that all U.S. servicemen are required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. As The Daily Wire reported:
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a memorandum on Monday informing all Department of Defense employees of an upcoming mandate to get immunized against coronavirus.
The Associated Press reported, “Members of the U.S. military will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine beginning next month under a plan laid out by the Pentagon Monday and endorsed by President Joe Biden.” According to the outlet, “Austin said the mid-September deadline could be accelerated if the vaccine receives final FDA approval or infection rates continue to rise.”
“I have every confidence that Service leadership and your commanders will implement this new vaccination program with professionalism, skill, and compassion,” Austin wrote. “To defend this Nation, we need a healthy and ready force.”