Sept. 9 (UPI) — President Joe Biden on Thursday announced new COVID-19 vaccination mandates for federal employees seeking to get nearly two-thirds of the American workforce vaccinated.
Biden signed a pair of executive orders requiring all federal workers, contractors and healthcare workers employed by institutions that accept Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to get vaccinated. Those affected by the mandate won’t have the ability to opt out by subjecting to frequent testing.
It would also require 300,000 educators in federal Head Start programs to be fully vaccinated.
He also called on governors throughout the nation to require vaccinations for all teachers and staff, saying the plan takes on elected officials in states that are “undermining” school officials that seek to implement mask mandates and other “life-saving 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,” Biden said.
Biden said that if governors do not help to beat the pandemic, he would use his power as president to “get them out of the way.”
He noted that the Education Department has already undertaken legal action against governors that undermine protection for students and assured that any teacher or school official whose pay is withheld for “doing the right thing” will have their pay fully restored by the federal government.
During his speech at the White House Thursday, Biden also directed the Department of Labor to require all businesses with 100 or more employees to require that workers be fully vaccinated or get tested for the virus once a week. Employers who fail to meet these requirements could face fines of up to $14,000 per violation.
Biden said the plans will affect 100 million workers.
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said in an appeal to unvaccinated Americans. “So please, do the right thing.”