GOP rips Biden for forcing vaccine rules on companies with 100 workers
Furious Republicans tear into Biden’s ‘unconstitutional, insane and coercive’ vaccine mandates: RNC vows to sue as governors and members of Congress prepare their own legal challenges
- Biden directed the Labor Department to issue a temporary order to require all businesses with 100+ employees to have them vaccinated or tested weekly
- Republican lawmakers and governors blasted the announcement as ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘un-American’ within minutes of its unveiling
- Some Republican lawmakers are already threatening legislation to stop it
- South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem threatened to mount a legal challenge
- Biden also announced a ramp up in testing, using the Defense Production Act to accelerate the production of rapid tests
- Biden will require all federal workers to be vaccinated, a part of a series of new mandates he’ll push in a major speech on the COVID pandemic
Republicans nationwide are tearing into President Joe Biden on Thursday after he announced he’d use an emergency order to force businesses with 100 or more employees to mandate vaccines or weekly COVID testing.
‘Forcing this and coercing people, I don’t think is the right decision. I’d imagine that you’re gonna see a lot of activity in the courts if they try to do that through an executive action,’ Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said during a press conference Thursday.
The Republican National Committee says that it intends to sue to block Biden’s order from taking effect, and several House Republicans plan to introduce legislation to negate the order.
‘Joe Biden told Americans when he was elected that he would not impose vaccine mandates. He lied,’ said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who added that she was ‘pro-vaccine and anti-mandate’.
‘Many small businesses and workers do not have the money or legal resources to fight Biden’s unconstitutional actions and authoritarian decrees, but when his decree goes into effect, the RNC will sue the administration to protect Americans and their liberties,’ said McDaniel.
Biden on Thursday announced an aggressive new plan to get 100 million employees across the federal government and private sector vaccinated against COVID as the case rate continues to rise due to the Delta variant.
Other Republican governors are also mounting a defense against Biden’s aggressive new order and vowing to fight it through state laws and lawsuits.
Arizona, Montana, Indiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Georgia and South Carolina were all among the Republican-led states that threatened legal action.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem appeared to threaten legal action against the Biden administration on Twitter, telling Biden: ‘See you in court.’
She was joined by fellow Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who wrote ‘I will pursue every legal option available to the state of Georgia to stop this blatantly unlawful overreach by the Biden administration’ on Twitter Thursday evening.
Florida Republican Ron DeSantis is just one of several governors blasting Biden’s announcement and vowing to block the order with state laws and lawsuits
‘Texas is already working to halt this power grab,’ tweeted Governor Greg Abbott, without offering more details.
‘Biden’s vaccine mandate is an assault on private businesses,’ wrote Abbot, who has signed an order banning the Texas state government from issuing vaccine mandates.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, also a Republican, released a statement criticizing Biden over the announcement.
Ducey said the Biden order ‘requires pushback and response’ but declined to say how the state would respond.
‘President Biden’s dictatorial approach is wrong, un-American and will do far more harm than good. How many workers will be displaced? How many kids kept out of classrooms? How many businesses fined?’ Ducey wrote Thursday.
Montana Governor Greg Gianforte called the new vaccination mandate ‘unlawful and un-American’ and said that he is ‘committed to protecting Montanans’ freedoms and liberties against this gross federal overreach.’
Montana is the only state in the U.S. with a law that makes it illegal for private employers to require vaccines as a condition for employment.
That new requirement appears to clash with parts of the Biden mandate, which tells all private businesses with 100 or more employees to require them to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested weekly.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson vowed to ‘fight back against federal power grabs and government overreach.’
‘The Biden Administration’s recent announcement seeking to dictate personal freedom and private business decisions is an insult to our American principles of individual liberty and free enterprise,’ tweeted Parson.
‘The President has no authority to require that Americans inject themselves because of their employment at a private business,’ Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves wrote on Twitter. ‘The vaccine itself is life-saving, but this unconstitutional move is terrifying. This is still America, and we still believe in freedom from tyrants.’
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee twitted: The Constitution won’t allow this power grab, and in the meantime, I will stand up for all Tennesseans.
Meanwhile, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs revealed he would try to block the measure in Congress.
‘I will be introducing legislation to block this egregious assault on Americans’ freedom and liberty,’ he wrote on Twitter.
‘We must fight against these attempts to force vaccine mandates on the American people.’
Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump who has been fined for refusing to wear a face mask on the floor of the House, tweeted on Thursday that she had also introduced a bill that would ‘stop discrimination in the work place from vaccine mandates.’
Republican Representative Dan Bishop, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, accused the administration of overreach.
‘Things that are unconstitutional tend not to hold up in court,’ Bishop tweeted shortly after the White House announced the plan.
Senator Ben Sasse released a scathing statement which read: ‘President Biden is so desperate to distract from his shameful, incompetent Afghanistan exit that he is saying crazy things and pushing constitutionally flawed executive orders.
‘This is a cynical attempt to pick a fight and distract from the President’s morally disgraceful decision to leave Americans behind Taliban lines on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. This isn’t how you beat COVID, but it is how you run a distraction campaign – it’s gross and the American people shouldn’t fall for it.’
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said ‘force is more important than freedom’ to Biden in a scathing Twitter post.
‘President Biden has made small business an enemy of his administration. Forcing main street to vax or pay a fine will not only crush an economy he’s put on life support—it’s flat-out un-American,’ McCarthy wrote.
Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky blasted Biden’s order as ‘unconstitutional.’
‘OSHA has no more authority to enforce this (there’s no statutory authorization) than CDC had to issue the eviction moratorium,’ Massie said. ‘Which is to say they both have ZERO authority to do these things. Congress makes the laws in a constitutional republic.’
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a regulatory agency within the United States Department of Labor.
To reach his goal, Biden will use the sweeping power of the federal government, ordering companies to vaccinate workers or face fines of up to thousands of dollars. If the administration hits its 100 million mark that means two-thirds of the country’s workforce would be vaccinated.
The rate of COVID vaccinations in the US slowed down over the summer
The vaccination rate slowdown coincided with a new spike in infections fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant
He’ll have the Labor Department issue an emergency, temporary order to require all businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure every worker is either fully vaccinated or gets tested at least once a week. The order covers over 80 million employees and it will require employers with 100 or more employees to give employees paid time off to get vaccinated.
Any business that violates the new rule will face substantial fines, up to $14,000.
Rep. Bob Gibbs of Ohio mocked Biden in a Thursday statement and accused him of making the announcement to shift national focus off of his botched Afghanistan withdrawal.
‘Blatantly violating the Constitution is one hell of a way to force his failure in Afghanistan out of the headlines. President Biden must be on a mission to be slapped down by the Supreme Court more than any previous administration,’ Gibbs wrote.
‘I expect this order to face legal challenges immediately and fully support the private sector’s future efforts to stop this unconstitutional action.’
Gibbs’s fellow Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Latta also joined in bashing Biden, claiming his ‘plan to force all federal workers to get vaccinated is the definition of government overreach.’
Republican lawmakers and governors have already threatened to take action against Biden’s order
‘Taking away personal freedoms and forcing mandates upon people doesn’t usually make them trust you,’ Rep. Paul Gosar, also of Arizona, wrote on Twitter.
Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas, a doctor, said Biden’s ‘vaccination decree is an all-out assault on private business, our civil liberties, and our entire constitutional system of limited government. This will likely get struck down in the courts – but is a terrifying glimpse of the new Marxist Dem Party.’
Senator Rand Paul, also a doctor, wrote on Twitter: ‘Vaccine mandates that ignore natural immunity ignore the science, are unscientific, and should not be adhered to or promulgated by the government.’
GOP Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee also ripped Biden, writing that he is ‘sounding more like a dictator every day.’
Utah Senator Mike Lee accused Biden of ‘coercing private citizens to undergo a medical procedure’ in a Thursday statement.
‘Joe Biden has shown a wanton disregard for the US Constitution. As a would-be autocrat, Biden endangers the very fibers of this great nation,’ Lee said.
Biden will also require all workers in healthcare settings that receive Medicaid or Medicare reimbursement to get vaccinated, which will apply to 17 million healthcare workers.
That is in addition to his executive order requiring all federal workers and contractors to get vaccinated.
Numerous Republicans quickly jumped on the measure and blasted it as ‘un-American’ and ‘unconstitutional’
A senior administration official described it as an ‘aggressive, comprehensive’ plan to fight COVID as part of their mission to ‘vaccinate the unvaccinated.’ The official estimated nearly 80 million Americans are eligible to receive a shot but have not.
Additionally, the roughly 300,000 educators in headstart programs will be required to be vaccinated.
‘It’s simple – if you want to work for the federal government, you must be vaccinated. If you want to do business with the government, you must vaccinate your workforce,’ the senior administration official said on a briefing call with reporters previewing the president’s remarks.
Additionally the TSA is doubling fines for people who refuse to mask on planes. The new range of penalties, which take effect Friday, September 10, 2021, will be $500-$1000 for first offenders and $1000-$3000 for second offenders, the Department of Homeland Security announced.
Biden announced an aggressive new plan to get 100 million employees across the federal government and private sector vaccinated, and directed the Labor Department to issue vaccine or weekly testing mandates to all companies with 100 or more employees
Biden will also call on governors to require vaccinations for all school teachers and staff, a call that will likely not go over well in Southern states like Texas and Florida, where the GOP governors have pushed back against the CDC’s requirement for face masks in schools.
In Florida, Republican Gov. Rick DeSantis has threatened to with hold funding from school districts that require face masks.
To counter moves like that, the Department of Education will make additional funding available to help local school districts backfill salaries and other areas where it has been with held.
Biden will also address booster shots in his remarks, leaving the details of timing to the FDA and CDC but noting preparations are underway to get another round of shots in arms.
He will also announce a ramp up in testing, using the Defense Production Act to accelerate the production of rapid tests, including at home test, and purchase $2 billion worth of rapid tests e and over the counter at home COVID tests for a total of 280 million tests.
‘The president’s plan, as you can see, it’s comprehensive, it’s aggressive, and will ensure that we make more progress in our fight against the virus to save even more lives in the months ahead, while also keeping schools open and protecting our economy from lockdowns,’ the official said.
Earlier Thursday it was revealed that Biden will require all of the roughly 2.1 million federal workers to be vaccinated as part of a series of new mandates.
There will be limited exceptions but any federal employee who refuses the shot can be fired, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.
Federal employees and contractors will have 75 days to get vaccinated.
The executive order will not include an option of being regularly tested to opt out of the vaccine requirement. The orders will apply to workers in the executive branch but not the congressional or judicial.
‘There will be limited exceptions for legally recognized reasons disability or religious objections,’ Psaki said. Anyone who ‘fails to comply, they will go through the standard HR process, which includes counseling and face disciplinary action,’ she added.
She confirmed that action could include termination of employment.
‘Hopefully it won’t come to that,’ she said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said any federal employee who doesn’t get vaccinated can be fired
She said the administration wanted the federal government to serve as an example for other businesses and organizations when it comes to vaccines.
‘Obviously the federal workforce is one of the largest in the country and we would like to be a model to what we think other businesses, organizations should do,’ she noted. ‘The expectation is that if you want to work with federal government or be a contractor, you need to be vaccinated unless you are eligible for one of the exemptions.’
Republican Congressman Rob Wittman of Virginia, who has federal workers in his district, said he objected to the forced vaccines.
‘Although I have personally been vaccinated and regularly encourage those I represent to get vaccinated as well, I fundamentally disagree with forcibly injecting America’s public servants,’ he told DailyMail.com in a statement.
‘Our government was founded to secure the individual liberties of all. We should instead continue educating the public that the COVID-19 vaccines are both safe and effective. Resorting to forced vaccinations, and returning to unnecessary restrictions, only serves to eliminate critically important vaccination incentives and undermine public confidence in the vaccines’ efficacy,’ he added.
The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union of federal workers, said they would bargain over the order.
‘Workers deserve a voice in their working conditions,’ the group said in a statement. ‘Neither of these positions has changed. We expect to bargain over this change prior to implementation, and we urge everyone who is able to get vaccinated as soon as they can do so.’
And the National Federation of Federal Employees, another government workers union, said they didn’t receive advance notice of the executive order.
The union that represents nearly 30,000 federal law enforcement officers has also come out against Biden’s mandate, saying it ‘villainizes employees’ for having concerns and hesitancies.
Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), told Fox News the mandate is a ‘misguided’ attempt that undermines vaccination efforts.
Psaki dismissed questions about the unions not being consulted. The Biden White House has bragged about its pro-union stance. At a Labor Day event on Wednesday, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said President Biden told him: ‘This is labor’s house.’
‘We have a range of consultation with labor unions, and that has been the case for several weeks and months as we have worked to implement additional steps,’ Psaki said.
‘But our objective here is to continue to save lives.’
The president is putting more pressure on states, businesses and schools to get people vaccinated as the Delta variant causes the case rate to continue to rise in the United States.
But Republican-led states including Texas and Florida have pushed back and are in the process of trying to ban the orders being imposed.
Psaki indicated in interviews on Thursday morning that more mandates were coming.
‘What we’ve seen work over the past couple months are mandates, requirements, making it so workers in the federal government or others have to get vaccinated. We’ve seen it work and we’ve seen it become more popular,’ Psaki said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
‘He’s going to speak directly to vaccinated people and their frustrations and he wants them to hear how we’re going to build on what we’ve done to date to get the virus under control,’ she said.
The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs already mandate vaccines for their employees. The military also has issued a vaccine mandate.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki indicated in interviews on Thursday morning that more mandates were coming
There have now been more than 40 million cases of COVID recorded among Americans, which is nearly one-fifth of the global total of cases.
Biden, in his remarks scheduled for 5 p.m. ET time, will address six areas where his administration can push for more Americans to get vaccinated: that includes new plans to get more people vaccinated, enhancing protection for those who already have had shots, keeping schools open, increasing testing and mask-wearing, protecting the economic recovery and improving healthcare.
President Biden and administration officials have repeatedly emphasized the best way for life to return to normal is for people to get vaccinated.
Biden also plans to call for a global summit, to be held during the U.N. General Assembly later this month, to respond to the pandemic and talk about how to get more vaccine supply to the developing world.
About 27 per cent of the eligible U.S. population age 12 and older have not received any COVID vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile about 75 per cent of Americans have received at least one shot and 53 per cent are fully vaccinated.
In December 2020, after he was elected but before he took office, Biden said he didn’t think COVID vaccines were necessary.
‘I will do everything in my power as president to encourage people to do the right thing and when they do it, demonstrate that it matters,’ he said at the time.
Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week Americans are getting infected with COVID at 10 times the rate needed to end the pandemic.
‘We’re still in pandemic mode, because we have 160,000 new infections a day,’ Fauci told Axios. ‘That’s not even modestly good control.’
‘In a country of our size, you can’t be hanging around and having 100,000 infections a day,’ he continued. ‘You’ve got to get well below 10,000 before you start feeling comfortable.’
About 75 per cent of Americans have received at least one shot and 53 per cent are fully vaccinated
The vaccination rate among Americans has increased since July, which is when the Delta variant caused case rates to spike, but it remains low in Southern states like Florida and Texas.
Biden will also address the divide between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
‘He also will acknowledge the fact that the 175 million people who are vaccinated out there, many of them are frustrated. They want to go back to normal. Of course they do. That’s going to require moving more unvaccinated people to a vaccinated status. That’s what he’ll talk about,’ Psaki told CNN on Thursday morning.
In his remarks, Biden also will seek to return his focus to the COVID pandemic, resetting the narrative after the difficult evacuation of Americans from Afghanistan and from Democratic in-fighting on Capitol Hill over his $3.5 trillion budget filled with social programs.
The Biden administration has already taken steps to try and stop Republican-led states from rolling back COVID mandates.
Last month, the Education Department announced a civil rights investigations into five states that banned schools from imposing mask mandates, claiming their stance could discriminate against students with disabilities or health problems.
Education chiefs in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah have been told they are under investigation.
‘It’s simply unacceptable that state leaders are putting politics over the health and education of the students they took an oath to serve,’ said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
‘The department will fight to protect every student’s right to access in-person learning safely.’
FULL TRANSCRIPT: Biden issues sweeping COVID-19 mandate for 100 million Americans
Good evening, my fellow Americans. I want to talk to you about where we are in the battle against COVID-19, the progress we’ve made, and the work we have left to do.
And it starts with understanding this: Even as the Delta variant 19 [sic] has — COVID-19 – has been hitting this country hard, we have the tools to combat the virus, if we can come together as a country and use those tools.
If we raise our vaccination rate, protect ourselves and others with masking and expanded testing, and identify people who are infected, we can and we will turn the tide on COVID-19.
It will take a lot of hard work, and it’s going to take some time. Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free.
You might be confused about what is true and what is false about COVID-19. So before I outline the new steps to fight COVID-19 that I’m going to be announcing tonight, let me give you some clear information about where we stand.
First, we have cons- — we have made considerable progress
in battling COVID-19. When I became President, about 2 million Americans were fully vaccinated. Today, over 175 million Americans have that protection.
Before I took office, we hadn’t ordered enough vaccine for every American. Just weeks in office, we did. The week before I took office, on January 20th of this year, over 25,000 Americans died that week from COVID-19. Last week, that grim weekly toll was down 70 percent.
And in the three months before I took office, our economy was faltering, creating just 50,000 jobs a month. We’re now averaging 700,000 new jobs a month in the past three months.
This progress is real. But while America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago when I took office, I need to tell you a second fact.
We’re in a tough stretch, and it could last for a while. The highly contagious Delta variant that I began to warn America about back in July spread in late summer like it did in other countries before us.
While the vaccines provide strong protections for the vaccinated, we read about, we hear about, and we see the stories of hospitalized people, people on their death beds, among the unvaccinated over these past few weeks.
This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. And it’s caused by the fact that despite America having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot.
And to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19. Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they’re ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from COVID in their communities. This is totally unacceptable.
Third, if you wonder how all this adds up, here’s the math: The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing. Nearly three quarters of the eligible have gotten at least one shot, but one quarter has not gotten any. That’s nearly 80 million Americans not vaccinated. And in a country as large as ours, that’s 25 percent minority. That 25 percent can cause a lot of damage — and they are.
The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals, are overrunning the emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack, or [pancreatitis], or cancer.
And fourth, I want to emphasize that the vaccines provide very strong protection from severe illness from COVID-19. I know there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation. But the world’s leading scientists confirm that if you are fully vaccinated, your risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is very low.
In fact, based on available data from the summer, only one of out of every 160,000 fully vaccinated Americans was hospitalized for COVID per day.
These are the facts.
So here’s where we stand: The path ahead, even with the Delta variant, is not nearly as bad as last winter. But what makes it incredibly more frustrating is that we have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans –supported by a distinct minority of elected officials — are keeping us from turning the corner. These pandemic politics, as I refer to, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die.
We cannot allow these actions to stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal.
As your President, I’m announcing tonight a new plan to require more Americans to be vaccinated, to combat those blocking public health.
My plan also increases testing, protects our economy, and will make our kids safer in schools. It consists of six broad areas of action and many specific measures in each that — and each of those actions that you can read more about at WhiteHouse.gov. WhiteHouse.gov.
The measures — these are going to take time to have full impact. But if we implement them, I believe and the scientists indicate, that in the months ahead we can reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans, decrease hospitalizations and deaths, and allow our children to go to school safely and keep our economy strong by keeping businesses open.
First, we must increase vaccinations among the unvaccinated with new vaccination requirements. Of the nearly 80 million eligible Americans who have not gotten vaccinated, many said they were waiting for approval from the Food and Drug Administration — the FDA. Well, last month, the FDA granted that approval.
So, the time for waiting is over. This summer, we made progress through the combination of vaccine requirements and incentives, as well as the FDA approval. Four million more people got their first shot in August than they did in July.
But we need to do more. This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you — the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love.
My job as President is to protect all Americans.
So, tonight, I’m announcing that the Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees, that together employ over 80 million workers, to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week.
Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this: United Airlines, Disney, Tysons Food, and even Fox News.
The bottom line: We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers. We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America.
My plan will extend the vaccination requirements that I previously issued in the healthcare field. Already, I’ve announced, we’ll be requiring vaccinations that all nursing home workers who treat patients on Medicare and Medicaid, because I have that federal authority.
Tonight, I’m using that same authority to expand that to cover those who work in hospitals, home healthcare facilities, or other medical facilities –- a total of 17 million healthcare workers.
If you’re seeking care at a health facility, you should be able to know that the people treating you are vaccinated. Simple. Straightforward. Period.
Next, I will sign an executive order that will now require all executive branch federal employees to be vaccinated — all. And I’ve signed another executive order that will require federal contractors to do the same.
If you want to work with the federal government and do business with us, get vaccinated. If you want to do business with the federal government, vaccinate your workforce.
And tonight, I’m removing one of the last remaining obstacles that make it difficult for you to get vaccinated.
The Department of Labor will require employers with 100 or more workers to give those workers paid time off to get vaccinated. No one should lose pay in order to get vaccinated or take a loved one to get vaccinated.
Today, in total, the vaccine requirements in my plan will affect about 100 million Americans –- two thirds of all workers.
And for other sectors, I issue this appeal: To those of you running large entertainment venues — from sports arenas to concert venues to movie theaters — please require folks to get vaccinated or show a negative test as a condition of entry.
And to the nation’s family physicians, pediatricians, GPs — general practitioners –- you’re the most trusted medical voice to your patients. You may be the one person who can get someone to change their mind about being vaccinated.
Tonight, I’m asking each of you to reach out to your unvaccinated patients over the next two weeks and make a personal appeal to them to get the shot. America needs your personal involvement in this critical effort.
And my message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? We’ve made vaccinations free, safe, and convenient.
The vaccine has FDA approval. Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot.
We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing. But just don’t take it from me; listen to the voices of unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breaths, saying, ‘If only I had gotten vaccinated.’ ‘If only.’
It’s a tragedy. Please don’t let it become yours.
The second piece of my plan is continuing to protect the vaccinated.
For the vast majority of you who have gotten vaccinated, I understand your anger at those who haven’t gotten vaccinated. I understand the anxiety about getting a ‘breakthrough’ case.
But as the science makes clear, if you’re fully vaccinated, you’re highly protected from severe illness, even if you get COVID-19.
In fact, recent data indicates there is only one confirmed positive case per 5,000 fully vaccinated Americans per day.
You’re as safe as possible, and we’re doing everything we can to keep it that way — keep it that way, keep you safe.
That’s where boosters come in — the shots that give you even more protection than after your second shot.
Now, I know there’s been some confusion about boosters. So, let me be clear: Last month, our top government doctors announced an initial plan for booster shots for vaccinated Americans. They believe that a booster is likely to provide the highest level of protection yet.
Of course, the decision of which booster shots to give, when to start them, and who will give them, will be left completely to the scientists at the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control.
But while we wait, we’ve done our part. We’ve bought enough boosters — enough booster shots — and the distribution system is ready to administer them.
As soon as they are authorized, those eligible will be able to get a booster right away in tens of thousands of site across the — sites across the country for most Americans, at your nearby drug store, and for free.
The third piece of my plan is keeping — and maybe the most important — is keeping our children safe and our schools open. For any parent, it doesn’t matter how low the risk of any illness or accident is when it comes to your child or grandchild. Trust me, I know.
So, let me speak to you directly. Let me speak to you directly to help ease some of your worries.
It comes down to two separate categories: children ages 12 and older who are eligible for a vaccine now, and children ages 11 and under who are not are yet eligible.
The safest thing for your child 12 and older is to get them vaccinated. They get vaccinated for a lot of things. That’s it. Get them vaccinated.
As with adults, almost all the serious COVID-19 cases we’re seeing among adolescents are in unvaccinated 12- to 17-year-olds — an age group that lags behind in vaccination rates.
So, parents, please get your teenager vaccinated.
What about children under the age of 12 who can’t get vaccinated yet? Well, the best way for a parent to protect their child under the age of 12 starts at home. Every parent, every teen sibling, every caregiver around them should be vaccinated.
Children have four times higher chance of getting hospitalized if they live in a state with low vaccination rates rather than the states with high vaccination rates.
Now, if you’re a parent of a young child, you’re wondering when will it be — when will it be — the vaccine available for them. I strongly support an independent scientific review for vaccine uses for children under 12. We can’t take shortcuts with that scientific work.
But I’ve made it clear I will do everything within my power to support the FDA with any resource it needs to continue to do this as safely and as quickly as possible, and our nation’s top doctors are committed to keeping the public at large updated on the process so parents can plan.
Now to the schools. We know that if schools follow the science and implement the safety measures — like testing, masking, adequate ventilation systems that we provided the money for, social distancing, and vaccinations — then children can be safe from COVID-19 in schools.
Today, about 90 percent of school staff and teachers are vaccinated. We should get that to 100 percent. My administration has already acquired teachers at the schools run by the Defense Department — because I have the authority as President in the federal system — the Defense Department and the Interior Department — to get vaccinated. That’s authority I possess.
Tonight, I’m announcing that we’ll require all of nearly 300,000 educators in the federal paid program, Head Start program, must be vaccinated as well to protect your youngest — our youngest — most precious Americans and give parents the comfort.
And tonight, I’m calling on all governors to require vaccination for all teachers and staff. Some already have done so, but we need more to step up.
Vaccination requirements in schools are nothing new. They work. They’re overwhelmingly supported by educators and their unions. And to all school officials trying to do the right thing by our children: I’ll always be on your side.
Let me be blunt. My plan also takes on elected officials and states that are undermining you and these lifesaving actions. Right now, local school officials are trying to keep children safe in a pandemic while their governor picks a fight with them and even threatens their salaries or their jobs. Talk about bullying in schools. If they’ll not help — if these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as President to get them out of the way.
The Department of Education has already begun to take legal action against states undermining protection that local school officials have ordered. Any teacher or school official whose pay is withheld for doing the right thing, we will have that pay restored by the federal government 100 percent. I promise you I will have your back.
The fourth piece of my plan is increasing testing and masking. From the start, America has failed to do enough COVID-19 testing. In order to better detect and control the Delta variant, I’m taking steps tonight to make testing more available, more affordable, and more convenient. I’ll use the Defense Production Act to increase production of rapid tests, including those that you can use at home.
While that production is ramping up, my administration has worked with top retailers, like Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger’s, and tonight we’re announcing that, no later than next week, each of these outlets will start to sell at-home rapid test kits at cost for the next three months. This is an immediate price reduction for at-home test kits for up to 35 percent reduction.
We’ll also expand — expand free testing at 10,000 pharmacies around the country. And we’ll commit — we’re committing $2 billion to purchase nearly 300 million rapid tests for distribution to community health centers, food banks, schools, so that every American, no matter their income, can access free and convenient tests. This is important to everyone, particularly for a parent or a child — with a child not old enough to be vaccinated. You’ll be able to test them at home and test those around them.
In addition to testing, we know masking helps stop the spread of COVID-19. That’s why when I came into office, I required masks for all federal buildings and on federal lands, on airlines, and other modes of transportation.
Today — tonight, I’m announcing that the Transportation Safety Administration — the TSA — will double the fines on travelers that refuse to mask. If you break the rules, be prepared to pay.
And, by the way, show some respect. The anger you see on television toward flight attendants and others doing their job is wrong; it’s ugly.
The fifth piece of my plan is protecting our economic recovery. Because of our vaccination program and the American Rescue Plan, which we passed early in my administration, we’ve had record job creation for a new administration, economic growth unmatched in 40 years. We cannot let unvaccinated do this progress — undo it, turn it back.
So tonight, I’m announcing additional steps to strengthen our economic recovery. We’ll be expanding COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs. That’s a program that’s going to allow small businesses to borrow up to $2 million from the current $500,000 to keep going if COVID-19 impacts on their sales.
These low-interest, long-term loans require no repayment for two years and be can used to hire and retain workers, purchase inventory, or even pay down higher cost debt racked up since the pandemic began. I’ll also be taking additional steps to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic.
Sixth, we’re going to continue to improve the care of those who do get COVID-19. In early July, I announced the deployment of surge response teams. These are teams comprised of experts from the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC, the Defense Department, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency — FEMA — to areas in the country that need help to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Since then, the federal government has deployed nearly 1,000 staff, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, into 18 states. Today, I’m announcing that the Defense Department will double the number of military health teams that they’ll deploy to help their fellow Americans in hospitals around the country.
Additionally, we’re increasing the availability of new medicines recommended by real doctors, not conspir- — conspiracy theorists. The monoclonal antibody treatments have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization by up to 70 percent for unvaccinated people at risk of developing sefe- — severe disease.
We’ve already distributed 1.4 million courses of these treatments to save lives and reduce the strain on hospitals. Tonight, I’m announcing we will increase the average pace of shipment across the country of free monoclonal antibody treatments by another 50 percent.
Before I close, let me say this: Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by this virus. And as we continue to battle COVID-19, we will ensure that equity continues to be at the center of our response. We’ll ensure that everyone is reached. My first responsibility as President is to protect the American people and make sure we have enough vaccine for every American, including enough boosters for every American who’s approved to get one.
We also know this virus transcends borders. That’s why, even as we execute this plan at home, we need to continue fighting the virus overseas, continue to be the arsenal of vaccines.
We’re proud to have donated nearly 140 million vaccines over 90 countries, more than all other countries combined, including Europe, China, and Russia combined. That’s American leadership on a global stage, and that’s just the beginning.
We’ve also now started to ship another 500 million COVID vaccines — Pfizer vaccines — purchased to donate to 100 lower-income countries in need of vaccines. And I’ll be announcing additional steps to help the rest of the world later this month.
As I recently released the key parts of my pandemic preparedness plan so that America isn’t caught flat-footed when a new pandemic comes again — as it will — next month, I’m also going to release the plan in greater detail.
So let me close with this: We have so- — we’ve made so much progress during the past seven months of this pandemic. The recent increases in vaccinations in August already are having an impact in some states where case counts are dropping in recent days. Even so, we remain at a critical moment, a critical time. We have the tools. Now we just have to finish the job with truth, with science, with confidence, and together as one nation.
Look, we’re the United States of America. There’s nothing — not a single thing — we’re unable to do if we do it together. So let’s stay together.
God bless you all and all those who continue to serve on the frontlines of this pandemic. And may God protect our troops.
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