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Jumat, 10 September 2021

US President Joe Biden orders sweeping new COVID-19 vaccine mandates for millions of Americans - ABC News

US President Joe Biden has taken aim at vaccine resistance in America, announcing policies requiring most federal employees to get COVID-19 vaccinations and pushing large employers to have their workers inoculated or tested weekly.

The new measures will apply to businesses with more than 100 workers, and will cover about two-thirds of all US employees, or about 80 million people.

"We've been patient," Mr Biden told the tens of millions of Americans who have declined to get coronavirus shots.

Taken together, the policies and speech represented Mr Biden's most aggressive steps yet to prod Americans resistant to getting shots as the fast-spreading Delta variant sparks a new wave of sickness and death.

The surge has posed increased risk not just to the country but to a President who ran on promises to get control of the pandemic.

Mr Biden's approval ratings have sagged since he said in July the United States was "closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus".

His latest moves are expected to be the subject of political and legal challenges.

Despite a full-throttled campaign by the Biden administration urging Americans to get the free and widely available vaccines, just over 62 per cent of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Thursday, Mr Biden warned that "we're in a tough stretch and it could last for a while".

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Infectious disease and health policy experts said the mandates were unlikely to significantly change infection rates quickly.

Still, they would help against potential future waves of the virus, reducing deaths and hospitalisations and alleviating the stress on the healthcare system, according to Georgetown University's Dr Jesse Goodman, a former chief scientist at the US Food and Drug Administration.

"It's absolutely the right thing to do," he said.

Biden accused of using 'fear' and 'control' 

In a televised speech running a bit under half an hour, Mr Biden accused "a distinct minority of elected officials" who have resisted mask and vaccine mandates on freedom-of-choice and economic grounds of "making people sick".

The White House COVID-19 recovery plan was based on the vast majority of eligible Americans being vaccinated this year. But the public health issue has become politicised, with a vocal minority refusing the shots and mask mandates.

Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order in July blocking mask mandates in schools.

Administration medical officials have said over 97 per cent of people hospitalised with COVID-19 are not vaccinated, and those people account for an even higher share of deaths.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the senior Republican on the House of Representatives committee that oversees health policy, said Mr Biden was "using fear, control, and mandates".

The Republican National Committee said it intended to sue the Biden administration over the vaccine mandate.

Under Mr Biden's plan, the administration will also require vaccinations for more than 17 million healthcare workers at hospitals and other institutions that participate in Medicare and Medicaid social programs for poor, disabled and older Americans.

Mr Biden is also requiring mandatory vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government. That covers several million more workers.

Mr Biden previously required that federal employees be vaccinated or get tested. The test option is now being removed.

Federal workers now have 75 days to get vaccinated or face termination, unless they fall into limited exemption categories.

Federal workers unions suggested that they would accept the vaccine mandate.

Substantial fines for companies

The US Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plans to take enforcement actions against private companies that do not comply with the vaccine mandate, with substantial fines of nearly $US14,000 ($19,000) per violation.

The administration is also calling on entertainment venues to require tests or shots, and for states to adopt mandates for school employees.

It is also multiplying the fines charged to people who fail to wear masks on airplanes, trains and buses.

It plans to also ramp up testing capacity for the virus.

Workers in the US wait after getting a COVID vaccine
The announcement is part of a new "action plan" to address the latest rise in coronavirus cases.(

Reuters: Lucy Nicholson

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Mr Biden will use authority under the Defense Production Act to spur industry to accelerate production of the tests, and big retailers including Walmart, Amazon.com and Kroger Co are expected to sell the tests at cost for the next three months to make them more affordable.

Critics say the Biden administration has not done enough on testing during its seven months in office. Still, the new demand for tests could tax already strained suppliers.

Administration officials believe the full recovery of the US economy depends on blunting the spread of the virus, the key focus of the President since entering office in January.

The disease has killed more than 654,000 people in the United States, and deaths and hospitalisations have been rising sharply as the easily transmissible Delta variant of the virus spreads.

The spread of the Delta variant has raised concerns as children head back to school, while also rattling investors, upending company return-to-office plans and tamping down hiring.

The White House also plans to offer booster shots providing additional protection to those who are fully vaccinated. But supplies are limited and the World Health Organization has begged rich countries to pause booster programs until more people worldwide are inoculated.

But with Delta causing more symptomatic breakthrough infections among fully inoculated individuals, most vaccinated Americans want a booster, a recent Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll found. Boosters could begin the week of September 20.

"Get vaccinated," Mr Biden urged in closing his speech.

Reuters

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https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMiUmh0dHBzOi8vd3d3LmFiYy5uZXQuYXUvbmV3cy8yMDIxLTA5LTEwL2pvZS1iaWRlbi11cy1uZXctdmFjY2luZS1tYW5kYXRlcy8xMDA0NTE4NDjSAShodHRwczovL2FtcC5hYmMubmV0LmF1L2FydGljbGUvMTAwNDUxODQ4?oc=5

2021-09-10 05:31:28Z
CAIiECDdzzSTVz-dbBxhcxsbB2cqFggEKg4IACoGCAow3vI9MPeaCDDciw4

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