WASHINGTON, DC — In a directive issued by President Biden on Thursday, September 9, all employers with more than 100 employees must require their workers either to be vaccinated, or require any who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. The mandate will affect more than 80 million workers around the country.
The rule will be developed and administered under the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The official form of the rule will be as an Emergency Temporary Standard. There is still no word on when the rule will go into effect, but it is expected soon.
In remarks at the White House, the President blamed those who have resisted COVID vaccination for endangering others.
“This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Biden said. “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.”
The announcement of the rule came with a similar mandate—this one an executive order—for all federal employees of the executive branch, including federal contractors. The US military had earlier announced a vaccine mandate for all service members. (The USPS, while not covered by the federal mandate, will be under the OSHA rule.)
In a press briefing held September 10th, Jeffrey Zients, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, said, "Yesterday, the President dramatically expanded the reach of vaccination requirements, requiring — through a rule OSHA is developing — that all businesses with 100 or more employees ensure every worker is either fully vaccinated or gets tested at least one time a week; requiring all workers in most healthcare settings that receive Medicaid or Medicare to be fully vaccinated; requiring all federal executive branch employees and all employees of federal contractors to be fully vaccinated; and requiring all Head Start educators and teachers and staff of all federally run schools to be fully vaccinated.
"So, from private sector employees, to healthcare workers, to educators and teachers, to federal employees and contractors, the President is covering over 100 million workers with vaccination requirements. A hundred million workers—that’s two thirds of all workers in America. And the President’s vaccination requirements are becoming the standard for American workers across the country. Vaccination requirements have been around for decades for diseases like polio, smallpox, and measles. They’re widely supported, and importantly, they’re proven to work."
Details of the mandate, such as accommodating religious exemptions, have yet to be worked out. Lawsuits from individuals and businesses opposed to the mandate are expected.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 41million coronavirus cases have been reported, and more than 660,000 Americans have died due to the disease.