Biden Expands Mandatory Vaccination to Fight COVID-19

Joe Biden on Thursday presented a “courageous and ambitious” plan to strengthen the fight against COVID-19 in the United States, the outbreak of which is fueled by the Delta variant, in particular by making vaccination compulsory for millions of public sector workers and private.

The US president signed an executive order requiring the approximately 4 million federal employees to be vaccinated, without the possibility of escaping the syringe by being tested regularly, according to a document released by the White House.

Employees of subcontractors working with federal agencies are also concerned.

For the private sector, the Ministry of Labor will introduce the obligation to be vaccinated or to perform a weekly screening test for employees of companies with more than 100 employees, or more than 80 million people.

And the president, who is due to speak in the afternoon, will call on the organizers of major sporting or cultural events to condition the entry of the public to proof of vaccination or a negative test.

The goal is “to reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans […] reduce hospitalizations and deaths, allow our children to go to school safely and keep our economy strong, ”Presidential spokesperson Jen Psaki told a press conference.

Federal officials will have 75 days to be fully vaccinated, or face disciplinary action, Psaki added, stressing that there would be “limited exceptions” due to disability or religious objections.

” A madness “

The White House also wants to facilitate screening tests and extend the wearing of masks (travel, federal buildings) to curb the epidemic.

This new “strategy”, broken down into six parts, aims to convince the 80 million Americans still unvaccinated. It comes as Joe Biden suffered several setbacks this summer on the health, economic and political fronts, punctuated by an avalanche of criticism over his management of the evacuations of civilians from Afghanistan at the end of August, in the midst of chaos after the return to power of the Taliban. .

Jen Psaki thus refuted an “excess of confidence” from the president, who had assured that the country had “gained the upper hand” on COVID-19 on July 4, the national holiday.

He had failed in his goal of having 70% of adults having received at least one dose of the vaccine by that date. The United States did not reach this rate until August 3.

This plan is “courageous and ambitious”, assured the spokesperson, but the federal government’s capacity for action is limited in the face of powerful states.

Republican officials, on the contrary, denounced a “madness” and an “unconstitutional” plan, in particular on the large business component.

The White House has already imposed vaccination on the military and personnel of nursing homes receiving federal subsidies.

Federal employees have so far had the choice of getting vaccinated or undergoing regular testing and various restrictive measures.

Keep schools open

A nationwide recall campaign for COVID-19 vaccines is also set to begin from September 20.

Joe Biden’s speech comes against a backdrop of an epidemic resurgence since the beginning of the summer because of the Delta variant while a part of Americans remaining reluctant or opposed to being vaccinated.

The United States, where 53.3% of the population is fully vaccinated according to health authorities, is the country with the most deaths linked to the new coronavirus in the world, with more than 653,000 deaths.

In addition to the health component, the White House also hopes to revive the economy with loans with simplified procedures for SMEs, severely affected by the epidemic.

He also wants to keep schools open by increasing screening tests and calling on states to vaccinate teachers and staff after a return to school in early September which fueled concerns and dissent.

Parents but also some Republican politicians are fiercely opposed to any obligation to have a vaccine – authorized from the age of 12 – or to wear a mask at school, in particular in the southern states.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to ban school districts from implementing mandatory masks in schools is the subject of a bitter legal battle.

Mr. Biden should finally call for the holding of a world summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly from September 22, to respond to the Covid-19 crisis and relaunch vaccination in emerging countries.

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