The White House COVID-19 response team Friday used its regular briefing to support and defend the new round of vaccination mandates announced a day earlier by U.S. President Joe Biden.
Part of Biden's plan calls for the U.S. Department of Labor to implement an emergency rule requiring all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week. The plan would cover more than 80 million workers. Non-compliance could bring fines of as much as nearly $14,000 per violation.
The plan drew criticism from Republican lawmakers and state governors. But during the team's virtual briefing, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients called the president's plan an aggressive, comprehensive way to get more people vaccinated, which is the surest path out of the pandemic.
He reiterated getting vaccinated is a public health issue, not a political one.
Zients said statistics show vaccine mandates work. He said when the president announced his mandate for federal employees to be fully vaccinated in July, hundreds of businesses, colleges and universities, health care systems, and state and local governments followed his lead.
Zients pointed out that since large companies like Tyson Foods and United Airlines announced similar requirements, vaccination numbers rose substantially. Tyson, for example, saw vaccination numbers go from 45% to 72%, with nearly two months to go before its November deadline, Zients said.
Centers for Disease Control Director Rochelle Walensky said this remains a pandemic of the unvaccinated, with more than 90% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 unvaccinated, more than 10 times the number of vaccinated patients.
The team said the pace of U.S. vaccinations has picked up, with 14 million people receiving their first shots in August, four million more than in July. The CDC reports more than 73% of U.S. residents, age 12 and older, have now received at least one vaccination and 62.5% are fully vaccinated.
Source: Voice of America