Democrats believe that experts whom you have no confidence in should rule you, and that the government is responsible for you from the cradle to the grave. Because of this decidedly paternalistic view, President Joe Biden made good on his promise to unveil a new plan to get COVID-19 under control–a plan that includes a vaccine mandate for companies with more than 100 employees.
He opened his speech today by expressing confidence that we could “turn the tide” on COVID-19. According to CDC data, we already have. Cases and deaths are declining:
Of course, this is a desperate pivot away from the continuing dumpster fire in Afghanistan and bad economic news over the past few weeks. Biden had high approval ratings for his handling of COVID-19 earlier this summer. He hopes to refocus Americans on something they have trusted him on in the past.
When he began speaking, he reinforced the divide between the vaccinated and unvaccinated. “Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated. Even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free,” Biden said. He doesn’t acknowledge that approximately 140 million have recovered, providing a barrier to infections. He then asserted that Americans are confused about what is true and what is false about COVID-19.
He went on to blame the economic problems on COVID-19. He emphasized that this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated a second time, without acknowledging that countries with much higher vaccination rates, like the UK and Israel, saw the same surge. “A distinct minority of Americans supported by a distinct minority of elected officials are keeping us from turning the corner,” he said. According to Biden, “pandemic politics” are killing people.
Biden’s plan has six elements. The goal is to decrease the number of unvaccinated Americans and reduce the number of hospitalizations and deaths. It is the beginning of an authoritarian push to vaccinate every American against COVID-19, regardless of age, medical history, or recovery from the illness previously.
“First, we must increase vaccinations among the unvaccinated with new vaccination requirements. With nearly 80 million eligible Americans who have not gotten vaccinated, many said they were waiting for approval from the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA.
“Last month, the FDA granted that approval. The time for waiting is over. This summer, we made progress with a combination of vaccine requirements and incentives as well as the FDA approval. Four million more people got their first shot in August than did in July. But we need to do more.
“This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you. The people you work with. The people you care about. The people you love. My job as president is to protect all Americans.”
Biden then announced that the Department of Labor would issue an emergency rule requiring employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or weekly testing. This order will cover 80 million employees. Employers will be required to pay workers for time to get vaccinated. In an odd assertion, he said this would protect vaccinated employees from unvaccinated coworkers.
Any healthcare facility that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding must also require vaccination. Some estimates report that as many as 40% of healthcare workers are not vaccinated. There is also a skilled nursing shortage. It is unclear how mandates will affect this trend. In Oregon, where cases are rising, 111 nurses are already on administrative leave for remaining unvaccinated.
Using the coercion of government contract requirements, Biden will require private companies that contract with the government to implement a vaccine mandate. Vaccination will also be a requirement for employment in the federal government. There will no longer be an exemption for routine testing. In total, the new plan will affect 100 million workers.
Biden will outline these requirements in executive orders not currently available on the White House website. It is unclear whether the orders will recognize natural immunity or whether there will be any consideration for medical conditions that increase the risk of vaccine side effects. Even former FDA Director Scott Gottlieb, who also sits on Pfizer’s board, has conceded, “The balance of the evidence demonstrates that natural immunity confers a durable protection. We should start assimilating that into our policy discussions.”
Biden encouraged medical providers to reach out to unvaccinated patients and encourage them to get the shot. Then he blamed unvaccinated Americans for the surge in cases again.
“My message to unvaccinated Americans is this. What more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see? We’ve made vaccinations free, safe, and convenient. The vaccine is FDA approved. 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.”
He then committed to protect the vaccinated by discussing booster shots. Biden explained that the dosages, timing, and authorization are up to the scientists in the healthcare agencies. He indicated that the science says that in order to have complete protection from COVID-19, a third dose is required. That has not been Israel’s experience. Boosters will be available at pharmacies nationwide for free.
To keep schools open, Biden pressured parents to get children over the age of 12 vaccinated. He told parents the best way to protect their children is to ensure every adult around them is vaccinated. He committed to assisting the FDA to expedite approvals to vaccinate younger children. Biden also advocated masking, social distancing, and improved ventilation.
He announced that all Head Start employees would be required to have vaccines and encouraged all school districts to require teachers and staff to receive vaccines. Biden said his plan would take on governors who stand in the way of mandates: “I will use my powers as president to get them out of the way.” He then committed to pay school officials who break state laws and defy a governor’s orders.
To increase testing, the administration will spend $2 billion to produce 280 million rapid and at-home tests for COVID-19. It will invoke the Defense Production Act to make them. The federal government’s free testing program will expand to 10,000 pharmacies nationwide. Retailers will sell the at-home tests at cost for the next three months. Food banks and other charities will also distribute the tests.
The federal mask mandates persist. Those who fly or take the train and don’t follow the federal mask mandates will see their fines double. Repeat offenders will pay up to $3,000 per incident. A loan of up to $2 million will be available for pandemic losses and hiring staff for small businesses.
The Department of Health and Human Services will increase the average weekly pace of monoclonal antibody shipments. It is the only outpatient treatment currently recommended by the NIH. If the federal government had taken this step weeks ago, it could have saved thousands of lives and prevented hospital overcrowding during the recent surge. Governor Ron DeSantis rolled out a program in early August and provided 3,000-4,000 doses per day, decreasing hospitalizations by 20% in the state.
WATCH Biden’s full remarks: