US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on plans to stop the spread of the Delta variant and boost Covid-19 vaccinations at the State Dinning Room of the White House, in Washington, DC on September 9, 2021.
US President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a major escalation in the national Covid immunization campaign with strict new vaccination rules affecting tens of millions of workers, as he hardened his tone towards Americans who refuse the shots.
The six-point plan targets businesses with more than 100 employees, in the United States’ most aggressive steps taken so far against the surging Delta variant.
“The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals, are overrunning emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack or pancreatitis or cancer,” he added.
Republican lawmakers immediately slammed the administration and claimed it was overstepping its authority.
The plan also mandates vaccinations for all federal employees and contractors.
Some 17 million health care workers at facilities receiving government Medicare or Medicaid program funding will also require vaccination.
Some 80 million Americans remain unvaccinated. Research shows they tend to be younger, less educated, and more likely to be Republican.
– Biden’s competency scrutinized –
After leading the world in coronavirus deaths under former president Donald Trump, the United States became a model for how to beat the pandemic.
But the emergence of the hard-to-stop Delta variant over the summer has filled intensive care units again — and some 1,500 people are dying every day, according to Johns Hopkins data.
Much of the problem is beyond Biden’s reach.
However, state governments, notably in Republican Texas and Florida, have actively resisted imposing mask mandates, while swaths of their populations refuse to get vaccinated — even as cases around them soar.
Despite the role played by Republican leaders, Biden, who is simultaneously taking a hit from the traumatic US exit from Afghanistan, is getting much of the blame.
Biden’s overall approval average ratings are firmly below 50 percent for the first time in his presidency.
Originally published as Biden ramps up vaccine mandates in Covid battle