Aiming to win back the support of US citizens disenchanted by his administration's handling of COVID-19, President Joe Biden last week announced two new vaccination mandates for two-thirds of the American labour force which accounts for 100 million workers. This includes about 80 million in the labour force and around 17 million in the healthcare sector.
The Department of Labour is in the process of creating an emergency temporary standard under which employers with more than 100 employees have to make sure that the employees are vaccinated and tested on a weekly basis. Companies who are found to be non-compliant with the rules will be subject to fines of up to US$14,000 per instance.
All healthcare workers who are also beneficiaries of Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement are also mandated by the administration to get inoculated for COVID-19.
Executive orders have been passed by the Biden government that makes COVID-19 vaccines compulsory for all employees of the federal government and workers of contractors who have business links with the federal government.
Entertainment arenas such as sports complexes and big concert halls are also asked to ensure that their patrons are vaccinated and show a negative test report for entrance.
State governments have been tasked to ensure that all teachers and school staff are vaccinated. Only 9 states have such provisions currently in place. Biden also assured that additional funding will be made available to the Department of Education to help local school districts backfill salaries; and also to other areas where state leaders were an impediment to safety measures.
The teachers and staff at Head Start and Early Head Start programmes, Department of Defense, and teachers and Bureau of Indian Education-operated schools, which between them employ more than 300,000 teachers and staff, will also come under the ambit of vaccine mandate plans.
The government's plans are also projected to help over 150,000 small businesses which have been severely affected by the pandemic, ideally saving the jobs associated with those businesses.