- Biden went ahead with a sweeping new strategy to rein in rising numbers of COVID cases in the US.
- The president’s plan to fight the surge includes, in part, vaccine and mask mandates.
- Biden also ripped governors he said are trying to undermine efforts to slow the pandemic.
President Joe Biden on Thursday tore into governors he said are threatening the United States’ progress on stemming the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19,” Biden said at a news conference. “Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they’re ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from COVID in their communities.”
Biden announced his new COVID-19 Action Plan, “Path out of the Pandemic,” which aims, in part, to get more people vaccinated in the US, keep schools open, and protect the broader economy.
The Biden administration is also leaning in on masking and testing mandates, while waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to approve booster shots for people who are already fully vaccinated.
As part of the effort to keep schools open, Biden urged governors to require COVID vaccinations for faculty and staff. In the early months of the pandemic in 2020, schools nationwide shut their doors and moved student instruction entirely online.
The president has made clear that he wants to avoid retreading that territory, putting some state governors that he said have been uncooperative on notice: “If these governors won’t help us … I’ll use my powers as president to get them out of the way,” Biden said.
Insider’s Azmi Haroun and Aria Bendix reported the plan Biden announced Thursday will require companies with more than 100 employees to require vaccinations or weekly testing, or face thousands of dollars in fines.
It also establishes vaccine mandates for all federal employees and contractors, and for healthcare workers employed at facilities that receive federal funding from Medicare or Medicaid.
According to the White House, there are 80 million Americans eligible to be vaccinated who have yet to receive their first dose.