Washington (AP) – In view of a new wave of corona and faltering vaccination coverage, the US government is forcing several million workers with new vaccination rules.
Workers who cannot provide proof of vaccination will always have to wear a mask in the future and be tested for a possible infection once or twice a week, US President Joe Biden said. To increase the population’s vaccination quota, he is also calling on states and municipalities to pay a $100 reward to each newly vaccinated person.
The scheme for the more than two million civilian employees of the government therefore also applies to employees of contract partners who work for government institutions. Unvaccinated workers would also be subject to severe restrictions on business travel. With the strict rules, the White House apparently wants to make vaccinations the only convenient solution – but without explicitly invoking a politically controversial vaccination requirement.
Biden: Vaccinations are the best defense
Biden stressed, however, that the government supports companies that want to impose mandatory vaccinations on their employees. “We all want our lives to return to normal and fully vaccinated workplaces will soon ensure that.” Google and Facebook announced the mandatory vaccination on Wednesday.
Biden has now also instructed the Defense Department to check when the armed forces could impose a mandatory corona vaccination. The Pentagon employs about three million people, including about two million soldiers. Biden also said at the White House that the government was investigating whether suppliers would require employee vaccination certificates or regular corona tests.
Biden urged Americans to get vaccinated soon. “Vaccinations are the very best defense to prevent you from becoming seriously ill with Covid-19.” Vaccination is the only way to beat the pandemic. The delta variant of the coronavirus is “highly contagious” and leads to many diseases in unvaccinated people. It is now an “unvaccinated pandemic” in the US, Biden stressed. About 99 percent of all corona deaths were not vaccinated. “This is an American tragedy. People who don’t have to die die and will die,” Biden said.
Infection Numbers and Vaccination Rewards
The number of daily new corona infections in the US will continue to rise before any improvement can be seen, the president warned on the basis of experts. Due to the delta variant, the number of new infections per day rose again to an average of about 65,000. A month ago, the average was around 13,000. Currently, more than 300 people die every day from an infection.
Biden said the government had more than enough vaccine for all Americans. “It’s a shame. It’s such a shame to waste this blessing.” The Democrat has spoken out against mandatory vaccination across the country, but is now putting increasing pressure on it. “If you are indeed not vaccinated, then you pose a problem — for yourself, for your family and for those you work with,” Biden warned.
In the US, more than 49 percent of the population of about 330 million people have so far been fully vaccinated and about 57 percent have received at least the first injection. More than 50 million doses sent to the states by the government have not yet been used, data from the CDC health agency shows. Experts warn that many doses could soon expire if the FDA doesn’t extend the expiration date.
The president has now called on states, counties and municipalities to offer a $100 reward for newly vaccinated people. You must use the remaining money from the incentive package from March. This should be “an extra incentive” to increase vaccination rates “and save lives,” according to the Treasury Department. Biden added: “If incentives help us beat this virus, then I think we should use them.” If more people are vaccinated, the whole country will benefit.
The stimulus package included US$350 billion in aid to states, provinces and municipalities, many of which have not yet been fully called in or planned. Many states and municipalities have already offered numerous incentives to increase vaccination rates – including millions in profits, bonds or a reward for all vaccinated. For example, the city of New York is already offering 100 dollars as an incentive vaccinations from Friday.