Joe Biden is losing patience with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still unvaccinated against COVID-19. Although the U.S. was one of the first countries to begin vaccinating its citizens, infection rates are rising significantly again. Especially now that the highly contagious delta variant is the dominant strain of the virus in the country.
This COVID-19 bounce-back can be seen, in the states of Tennessee and Texas, where vaccination rates are particularly low. Now Biden is unveiling a six-point plan to combat the pandemic – one that could affect much of the private sector.
The new regulations will apply to nearly 100 million private sector and health care workers…
The President’s “Six-Pronged” Vaccination Plan
Biden’s new COVID-19 policy has six “prongs” – but these “prongs” refer to goals, rather than concrete policies…
- Vaccinating the unvaccinated
- Further protecting the vaccinated
- Keeping schools safely open
- Increasing testing and requiring masking
- Protecting the economic recovery
- Improving care for those with COVID-19
In practical terms, the plan will impose a slew of new restrictions on employers in service of these six goals.
Companies with more than 100 employees will have to vaccinate their entire workforce or test any unvaccinated workers at least once a week. This will affect around 80 million employees in the private sector.
About 17 million health care workers who accept payments from government health programs will also need to be vaccinated.
All federal government employees and contractors will also be subject to mandatory vaccination, except those with specific health or religious exemptions. Government workers and contractors will no longer be able to opt for regular testing instead of vaccination; anyone not vaccinated after 75 days will face disciplinary action or even dismissal.
Fines will also double for mask-refusers in public places such as airports or train stations, as well as on public transportation.
Only 53% of People are Fully Vaccinated in the U.S.
Despite a diverse and readily available supply of vaccines, the U.S.’s vaccination rate has plateaued in recent months. It has even fallen behind that of many other developed countries. Only 53% of the U.S. population is fully-vaccinated, and only 63% have even received their first shot.
The U.S.’s low vaccination rate is not only a public health issue. It has also become a battleground in America’s political culture war, as vaccine resistance has become a shibboleth for certain sections of the Republican Party. It’s also rapidly becoming a stress factor for the country’s stock markets.
The 725-point plunge in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on July 19, for example, was motivated by delta variant fears and followed several days of particularly grim COVID-19 infection rate data.
A renewed lockdown or other restrictive measures could have a severe impact on the US economy and lead to another sharp stock market correction – one that may not just affect the U.S. After all, Germany’s DAX composite plummeted by similar margins on July 19.