(Washington) Joe Biden, facing a COVID-19 epidemic that doesn’t end with the Delta variant, took the hard way Thursday, making vaccinations mandatory for two-thirds of American workers, and eventually the coronavirus “turned the page”. .
Posted on Sep 9, 2021 at 11:05 am Updated at 7:01 pm
Cyril JULIEN Agence France-Presse
The Democratic president signed an executive order requiring law enforcement officials to be vaccinated without the option of regular testing, under threat of disciplinary action, the White House said.
It also affects employees of federal agency subcontractors, retirement homes receiving federal grants (17 million), and federally regulated schools (military or tribal schools).
For the private sector, the Ministry of Labor will make vaccinations or a weekly screening test mandatory for employees in companies with more than 100 employees or more than 80 million people.
“In total, about 100 million Americans, or two-thirds of workers, will be subject to vaccination requirements,” said Joe Biden in a speech.
The White House also wants to facilitate screening tests and expand the wearing of masks (travel, federal buildings) to contain the epidemic.
This new “strategy” targets the 80 million Americans who have not yet been vaccinated, or 25% of the population.
This “identified minority of Americans, backed by an identified minority of politicians, is preventing America from turning the page” of COVID-19, the president denounced.
He attacked “elected officials” [qui] are actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19 “by banning all strict measures such as wearing a mask in the name of individual freedoms, even if positive cases and the death toll from the Delta variant explode in this summer are several conservative states.
“It’s not about freedom or personal choice, but about protecting yourself and the people around you,” Biden emphasized.
Republican officials, on the other hand, denounced a “madness” and “unconstitutional” plan, particularly regarding the big business component. “It looks a lot like a dictatorship,” tweeted the Republican Party from the House of Representatives.
It is imperative that the Democratic president bounce back on health after suffering multiple setbacks on the economic and political front this summer, punctuated by an avalanche of criticism of his management of the evacuation of civilians from Afghanistan in late August.
He had already missed his goal of receiving at least one dose of the vaccine by July 4th, the national holiday, for 70% of adults. The country didn’t reach this milestone until August 3rd.
The United States, where 53.3% of the population is fully vaccinated according to health officials, is the country with the highest number of deaths from the new coronavirus worldwide, with more than 653,000 deaths.
But the federal government’s ability to act is limited in the face of powerful states, especially with regard to schools, which Joe Biden wants to “keep safe open”.
He urged states to vaccinate teachers and staff after returning to school in early September, fueling concerns and disagreements.
Parents, but also some Republican politicians, vehemently reject compulsory vaccinations – permitted from the age of 12 – or the wearing of a mask in school, especially in the southern states.
In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis’ decision to ban school districts from introducing masking requirements in schools is the subject of bitter litigation.
The President also called on the organizers of major sporting or cultural events to make public admission dependent on a vaccination certificate or a negative test.
And he announced a doubling of fines for passengers who refuse to wear a mask on airplanes. “If you break the rules, be prepared to pay,” warned Biden, adding, “And show the flight attendants some respect, by the way.”
In addition to the health component, the White House also hopes to revive the economy with loans with simplified procedures for the SMEs severely affected by the epidemic.