Biden's six-step plan to fight Delta surge. All you need to know
US President Joe Biden on Thursday unveiled a new six-step “action plan” to fight the surge in coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases largely driven by the highly infectious Delta variant. Over 200 million individuals in the US are either fully or partially vaccinated while more than 80 million eligible population has not received a single dose of Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine hesitancy among unvaccinated has been a major reason behind the surge in Covid-19 cases.
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin,” Biden said at a White House speech. “And your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing.”
The latest plan is aimed at primarily taking the vaccine hesitancy head-on by mandating Covid-19 vaccines for federal workers, contractors, and certain health workers. It will also require employees at companies with 100 or more workers to be either get vaccinated or get tested weekly.
Here are key parts of the plan:
A rule will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated. Unvaccinated workers will need to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. According to the White House, this requirement will impact over 80 million workers in private sector businesses.
The new rule will require employers with more than 100 employees to provide paid time off for getting vaccinated or recovering from post-vaccination sickness.
Entertainment venues where large groups of people gather will require their patrons to be vaccinated or show a negative test for entry.
The plan requires mandatory vaccinations for over 17 million health care workers in hospitals, clinics and other facilities that accept payments from Medicare and Medicaid.
The Biden administration is preparing for booster shots to start as early as the week of September 20, subject to approval by the US Food and Drug Administration. Booster shots will be made available free of cost across 80,000 locations.
The staff in Head Start programs, department of defence schools, and Bureau of Indian education-operated schools will be required to get vaccinated. The plan calls on governors to make vaccination mandatory for teachers and school staff.
The federal government plans to make additional funding available to help local school districts fill gaps when funding has been withheld by their state for implementing Covid-19 safety measures.
Mask and testing
Mask requirements for interstate travel and in the federal property will continue and those found violating the guidelines will be double fined. The number of retail pharmacies offering free Covid tests will be expanded to 10,000.
The department of defense will double the number of military medical teams deployed to support local hospitals battling a surge in Covid-19 cases. The Biden administration will boost shipments of free monoclonal antibody treatment by 50% in September.
Under the plan, the maximum loan amount to small businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic will be increased from $500,000 to $2 million. The amount can be used to hire and retain employees, purchase inventory and equipment, and pay off higher-interest debt.