President Joe Biden announced Thursday a number of measures to persuade Americans who are still unvaccinated against COVID-19. Some were in the form incentives, others as mandates.
This includes new requirements that all civilian federal employees or contractors must disclose their vaccination status. If they are not, they will need to be tested frequently, socially distant, wear masks, and be subjected to travel restrictions.
As part of the inducements, Biden is asking states and cities to use federal rescue funds to offer $100 for residents to get their shots, and a program that would reimburse employers for providing paid time to allow their workers and their families to receive the vaccine
Biden described the current health crisis as “a pandemic among the unvaccinated”, pointing out that those who have been vaccinated are almost completely protected from severe diseases and death. However, about 90 million Americans who are eligible for the shots have not yet received them.
Biden stated that this was an American tragedy. People are dying and will soon die, but they don’t have the right to. You don’t have the right to die if you aren’t vaccinated.
The president cited instances in which people dying from cancer wished they had received the vaccine earlier.
He said, “It’s heartbreaking and it’s difficult even more because you can prevent it.”
Two days after the CDC issued new mask guidance encouraging even those who are vaccinated to cover up indoors in some areas, momentum continued to build for measures to contain the explosion in COVID cases across the nation fueled by the emergence of the delta variant and waning vaccination rates.
California, New York state and the Department of Veteran Affairs have announced plans to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for most of their employees or face testing. Both the states and others recommended Tuesday that everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, wear a mask indoors. Los Angeles County and Washington, D.C., are among the jurisdictions imposing mask mandates again, and New York City is considering one.
Private employers are also taking action, with tech giants Google and Facebook as well as streaming platform Netflix announcing Wednesday that they will require workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The number of COVID-19-related deaths in the U.S. is at an all-time high of over 2,000 per week. New cases are now at more than 60,000 per hour for the first time since the drop to 11,000.