President's plan

President Joe Biden announces Sept. 9 his six-point COVID-19 action plan that includes vaccination and testing mandates for businesses.

President Joe Biden is requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure that their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 or produce a negative test at least weekly before coming to the workplace.

Biden announced Sept. 9 his six-point plan in combatting the pandemic, which has infected nearly 41 million Americans and killed over 650,000. He is having the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration create the Emergency Temporary Standard, which will impact 80 million workers.

“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.”

The Democrat’s proposal drew this statement from Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, “My team and I, along with other like-minded attorneys general, are reviewing all legal action on how to stand against these authoritarian actions by the Biden administration.

“We will be prepared to file suit if Biden seeks illegal actions restricting Hoosiers’ liberties.”

Frustrated by the lack of movement of 80 million of eligible Americans who haven’t sought free, FDA-approved vaccines as hospitals are inundated by increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients in recent weeks, Biden’s plan includes the ability of small businesses to borrow up to $2 million in forgivable loans, the availability of at-home test kits at cost from major retailers, requiring federal workers and contractors and teachers in the federal Head Start program to be vaccinated, and increases in Transportation Security Administration fines against travelers who refuse to wear masks.

The “pandemic politics” can’t be allowed to stand in the way of the vast number of Americans who’ve gotten vaccinated and want to move on to normal life, he said.

Biden, citing a course of “truth, science and confidence,” also called on governors to require their states’ schoolteachers and staff be vaccinated.

“I know there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation. But the world’s leading scientists confirm that if you’re fully vaccinated, your risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is very low,” he said.

Data from the summer show that 1 of 160,000 fully vaccinated Americans was hospitalized with COVID-19 per day, he said.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb responded, “I believe the vaccine is the number one tool that will protect us and our loved ones against COVID-19. It is the tool that will end the pandemic. However, I strongly believe it’s not the state or federal government’s role to issue a vaccine mandate upon citizens and private businesses. This is the approach our administration has taken all along. The announcement from President Biden is a bridge too far. Private businesses should be able to look at their own mission, their staff and their goals and make the decision best for them that will keep their doors open.

“I believe it is fundamentally a citizen’s right to choose whether or not to get the vaccine. While I wish everyone would get the vaccine, we are a country built on this exact type of freedom.”

According to Biden’s plan:

1.Vaccinating the unvaccinated: In August, the FDA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, now called Comirnaty, so those who said they were waiting for such approval should get vaccinated, Biden said. “So the time for waiting is over,” he said. Four million more Americans got the first of two shots of a COVID-19 vaccine in August than did in July, “but we need to do more.”

Many of the largest U.S. companies already require vaccinations: Tyson Foods, Disney and United Airlines.

Biden is expanding his authority over federal worker requirements that he used to announce that nursing home workers who treat federal Medicaid and Medicare residents will need to be vaccinated. Now, those in hospitals, home health are and the medical facilities will also be required to be vaccinated, an extra 17 million workers.

Also, he’ll sign executive orders requiring that all federal workers and contractors be vaccinated.

The action has been condemned by New Civil Liberties Alliance. A statement by Jenin Younes, NCLA Litigation Counsel and lead counsel in Jeanna Norris v. Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., in his official capacity as President of Michigan State University, et al., said “The Biden administration’s ill-conceived ‘Path out of the Pandemic’ plan vastly exceeds the powers the United States Constitution allots the executive branch. The federal government has no police power, and likewise no authority to force private employers of any size to mandate vaccines. It seems like the White House is trying to usurp legislative power that it does not have.”

Companies with 100 or more workers will need to provide paid time off for workers to be vaccinated.

He encouraged large venues, such as sports arenas, to require patrons to show negative test results before entering the facility.

2. More protection for the vaccinated: The federal government has bought booster shots and created a system for distribution. Who will need and give them and when will be left up to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

3. Keeping schools open: All of the nearly 300,000 educators in the federal Head Start program must be vaccinated. Also, the Department of Education is backing schools districts that are being penalized for COVID-19 precautions. The DOE has begun investigations in five states that have prohibited mask mandates at schools: Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah.

4. Increasing testing and masking: Using the Defense Production Act, the government will increase production of rapid tests. In the meantime, Walmart, Amazon and Kroger no later than next week each will sell at-home rapid test kits at cost, a savings of up to 35% to buyers.

5. Protect economic recovery: Biden is expanding the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Small businesses can borrow up to $2 million, up from the current $500,000 limit, with no repayment for up to 2 years. They can can use money to pay higher debt, buy inventory or hire and retain employees,

6. Care of those with COVID-19: Biden in July announced COVID-19 Surge Response Teams made up of members from Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense and Federal Emergency Management Agency to stem spread of COVID. About 1,000 nurses, doctors and paramedics have helped in 18 states to help hospitals deal with the rising number of COVID-19 cases. Biden will double the number of military health teams. He’s also increasing the shipment of free monoclonal antibodies used to treat COVID-19 to states by 50% in September. In July and August, the federal government shipped 100,000 doses a week.

More details of the plan are available at www.whitehouse.gov.

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