As COVID-19 illnesses related to the Delta variant increase, the Biden Administration has announced a series of measures to increase vaccination rates in the country. The shots will be mandated for federal employees and contractors. Private businesses with more than 100 businesses will also have to show its employees are vaccinated or are being tested weekly for COVID.
“Despite having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months, free vaccines have been available at 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot,” President Biden said in announcing the new measures.
The six-part plan announced by the administration focuses on vaccinating those who have not been vaccinated, as well as measures that further protect vaccinated people, keeping schools open and requiring masking. The Administration’s COVID plan is available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/covidplan/.
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to implement this requirement. This requirement will impact over 80 million workers in private sector businesses with 100+ employees.
Additionally, OSHA is developing a rule that will require employers with more than 100 employees to provide paid time off for the time it takes for workers to get vaccinated or to recover if they are under the weather post-vaccination. This requirement will be implemented through the ETS.
Part of the plan will provide new support to small companies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Administration will strengthen the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which provides long-term, low-cost loans. The improvements will allow more business to get greater and more flexible support from the $150 billion in loanable funds still available in the program.
Sources: CNBC, The White House