How many Americans does Biden's vaccine mandate apply to?
The presidential decree has been in place for a week with tens of millions of Americans effected by the announcement.
In total, 100 million workers across the US will need to be vaccinated.
For federal workers, this is more pressing; there is no longer an option to submit for regular testing. It's get the vaccine or potentially lose your job. On the contrary, private businesses retain the flexibility of regular testing.The move is expected to lead to an increase in vaccination levels as the US heads towards winter, traditionally dangerous months with covid-19 due to the swathes of indoor activity. Still just over 55% of Americans are fully vaccinated, particularly risky due to the prevalence of the Delta variant.
Some states have already announced they will outright ignore Biden's demand. Others have gone so far to fine businesses for mandating vaccines in the workplace.
What are the rules for federal workers?
The US government directly employs around 4.25 million people, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service. They have 75 days to be vaccinated, and regular testing will no longer be accepted. There will be exemptions, which are to be announced in the coming days. Hospitals and hospital staff, as well as contractors who do business with the federal government, will also need to be vaccinated within 75 days.
This will bring other departments in line with the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Institutes of Health, who had all previously announced the introduction of mandates.
And for businesses with over 100 staff?
Staff are either obliged to be vaccinated or they can do weekly testing, like the original rules for federal workers. There is a $14,000 penalty per violation of the ruling.
What pushback has there been already?
Republican states are pushing back against the mandates, describing them as an overreach of federal power.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the mandates “an assault on private businesses” and said he already “issued an Executive Order protecting Texans’ right to choose whether they get the covid-19 vaccine.” He also said that his state is “working to halt this power grab.”
Other Republican governors followed his sentiment and are also threatening lawsuits against Biden’s executive orders.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp plans to “pursue every legal option available to the state of Georgia to stop this blatantly unlawful overreach by the Biden administration.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has said the state will fine county and city governments $5,000 per violation if they require employees to be vaccinated.
Vaccine mandates have existed much longer than covid-19 and the pushback by Republican governors follows the Republican playbook for how to dig in heels against the Democrats.