On Thursday, July 29, 2021, the White House confirmed that the Biden Administration would articulate new goals related to COVID-19 and the Delta variant:
- Strengthening safety protocols for federal employees and federal contractors.
- Protecting those who serve our country.
- Expanding paid leave to get families and kids vaccinated.
- Calling on state and local governments to offer $100 to get vaccinated.
- Increasing vaccinations among adolescents as kids go back to school.
President Biden affirmed those objectives in his remarks “laying out the next steps in our effort to get more Americans vaccinated and combat the spread of the Delta variant.” This address coincided with news from an internal CDC document that the Delta variant “appears to cause more severe illness and spread as easily as chickenpox.” Although this document has not yet been released by the CDC, CNN reported that CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky confirmed the authenticity of this document. Likewise, CNN reported that the CDC is scheduled to publish the data today—Friday, July 30, 2021.
In his remarks, President Biden announced a new policy requiring all federal employees to affirm their vaccination status at work. The White House explained those that refuse to attest to being fully vaccinated must wear a mask at all times while at work, maintain physical distance from all other employees and visitors, submit to weekly or twice-weekly screenings, and comply with official travel restrictions. The federal government currently employs more than 4 million individuals, and the White House explained that this mandate is to protect the federal workforce and those they serve.
Moreover, to increase vaccination rates, President Biden called on state and local governments to financially incentivize individuals to get vaccinated by offering $100 per person who receives the vaccine. The President announced that small- and medium-sized businesses will now be reimbursed for offering paid leave to employees for time taken to receive the vaccine, including the time taken for their children and other family members to be vaccinated as well.
Another avenue the President pressed to increase vaccination rates is through school districts. President Biden implored school districts across the nation to host at least one pop-up vaccination clinic to encourage children old enough to be vaccine-eligible (12 years or older) to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Although almost 90% of educators and school staff are vaccinated, the Biden Administration wants to ensure that students eligible for the vaccine “have an easy and accessible way to get vaccinated.”
Finally, President Biden asked the Department of Defense to explore adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for all military personnel. In conjunction, the President also required all doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers providing medical care for veterans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. President Biden announced this directive while expressing concern over the low rates of vaccination and high prevalence of disease in the geographic areas in which troops are currently located.
Norton Rose Fulbright attorneys will continue to provide relevant updates for healthcare providers on the Health Law Pulse during the COVID-19 public health crisis.