Businesses with 100-plus employees will have to test unvaccinated workers weekly
The federal government’s latest action to fight the COVID-19 pandemic is a rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that will require businesses with 100 or more workers to test unvaccinated employees weekly. As White House press secretary Jen Psaki put it, the “overarching objective here is to reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans,” a number that stands at more than 60 million adults who have not received any doses.
While the OSHA rule will not require vaccinations, it will exempt vaccinated workers from weekly testing, thus incentivizing vaccinations. The OSHA rule will come with fines of $14,000 per violation. Workers will get paid time off to get vaccinated.
Under other federal authority, vaccines will be required for workers at health facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding. Head Start programs and schools run by the Department of Defense and Bureau of Indian Education will require employees be vaccinated. Employees of federal government contractors will also have a vaccine mandate.
“We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers. We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America,” President Biden said.
Biden announced the TSA will double fines on airline passengers not wearing masks, decrying the lack of respect unruly passengers have shown flight attendants in recent months.
The moves come shortly after Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine received full FDA approval and as the Delta variant dominates a wave of COVID hospitalizations and deaths.
“My message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see?” Biden said Thursday. “We’ve made vaccinations free, safe, and convenient. The vaccine has FDA approval. Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing.”
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