President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a six-part plan to combat the spread of the delta variant that includes mandatory vaccinations that could affect two-thirds of American workers.
The plan mandates vaccines for those who work for the federal government and for private-sector businesses with more than 100 employees. It requires these companies’ workforces be fully vaccinated or test negative for COVID at least once a week.
In addition, the plan calls for the production of more COVID-19 tests, streamlining Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness, and increasing support for hospitals that are seeing surges in COVID-19 cases.
Here is a look at the plan from the White House.
1. Vaccinate the unvaccinated
· Requiring all employers with 100+ employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly. The rule that private sector businesses with more than 100 employees require vaccinations will affect an estimated 80 million people.
· Requiring vaccinations for all federal workers and millions of contractors who do business with the federal government.
· Requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for over 17 million health care workers at Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals and other health care settings.
· Calling on large entertainment venues to require proof of vaccination or testing for entry.
· Requiring employers to provide paid time off to get vaccinated.
2. Further protecting the vaccinated
· Providing easy access to booster shots for all eligible Americans. Booster shots will be free and widely available across 80,000 locations — from pharmacies to doctors’ offices to health centers.
· Ensuring Americans know where to get a booster, with a toll-free number, 1-800-232-0233, also available in over 150 languages. Americans who have already utilized the text code “438829” or WhatsApp to get vaccine information will automatically receive a text with information on boosters, if and when recommended.
3. Keep schools safely open
· Requiring staff in Head Start programs, Department of Defense schools and Bureau of Indian Education-operated schools to be vaccinated.
· Calling on all states to adopt vaccine requirements for all school employees.
· Providing additional funding to school districts for safe school reopening, including backfilling salaries and other funding withheld by states for implementing COVID-19 safety measures.
· Using the Department of Education’s full legal authority to protect students’ access to in-person instruction.
· Getting students and school staff tested regularly.
· Providing every resource to the FDA to support timely review of vaccines for individuals under the age of 12.
4. Increase testing and require masking
· Mobilizing industry to expand easy-to-use testing production.
· Making at-home tests more affordable.
· Sending free rapid, at-home tests to food banks and community health centers.
· Expanding free pharmacy testing for COVID-19.
· Continuing to require masking for interstate travel, and doubling fines for anyone who violates masking rules.
· Continuing to require masking on federal property.
5. Protect economic recovery
· New support for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 — the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program will be streamlined to allow more businesses to get loans, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) will increase the maximum amount of funding a small business can borrow through this program from $500,000 to $2 million.
· Streamlining the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness process. The new process will have the SBA sending completed forgiveness application forms to the borrower who can then review, sign, and return to SBA, which then works with the lender to complete the forgiveness process.
· Launching the Community Navigator program to connect small businesses to the help they need; the program will help small business to access local, state and federal resources.
6. Improving care for those with COVID-19
· Increasing support for hospitals; the Department of Defense is announcing a commitment to double the number of DOD teams of clinicians deployed to support hospitals.
· Getting monoclonal antibody treatment to those who need it; the administration will increase the average weekly pace of shipments of free monoclonal antibody treatment to states by 50% in September. More than 100,000 treatments have been shipped in the past few months.
· Expanding the pool of health care professionals providing treatment by deploying federal monoclonal antibody strike teams; the administration will deploy clinical personnel to help deliver monoclonal antibody treatments.
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