President Joe Biden will outline a broad plan Thursday to increase Covid-19 vaccination rates in the U.S. as cases plateau at a high number, pressuring private employers to immunize their workforce as well as mandating the shots for federal workers, contractors and employees of health-care facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding.
The nation is reporting an average of 151,500 new cases per day, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, hovering around levels seen in late January. The country is reporting an average of about 1,500 Covid deaths per day, according to Hopkins’ data, in line with numbers seen in March when the U.S. was coming down from its winter surge.
Biden, in a speech at 5 p.m. ET, will discuss a six-part plan intended to get more people vaccinated, allow schools to reopen safely, increase testing, improve care for patients and boost the economic recovery, according to details released by the White House.
The president is expected to roll out a new requirement for federal employees to get a Covid vaccine, with no option for regular testing, a source familiar with the matter told NBC News.
The executive order will extend to contractors that work with the U.S. government, impacting a total of 2.1 million employees. Biden previously ordered all federal employees to prove their coronavirus vaccination status or submit to a series of rigorous safety protocols.
Biden is also expected to ask the U.S. Department of Labor to issue a rule that employers with more than 100 employees must require vaccines or testing, according to NBC News. He is also expected to announce a requirement for health-care facilities that get Medicare and Medicaid funding to have staff fully vaccinated, according to NBC News.
Biden additionally plans to call on all schools to set up regular testing when Covid is spreading in a community for students, faculty and staff who aren’t fully vaccinated, according to an administration official.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday the plan will engage both the public and private sectors to help “continue to get the pandemic under control.”
Despite the administration’s nationwide push for Covid vaccinations, just over 176 million Americans, or 53.3% of the total population, are fully vaccinated, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The administration has already announced its plans to give out Covid vaccine booster shots later this month to those who are eight months out from their second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday the U.S. will likely start to widely distribute third Pfizer shots during the week of Sept. 20, but the rollout for Moderna’s could be delayed.
The Biden administration has also encouraged private businesses to implement vaccine mandates, though CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has told CNBC that federal officials would not issue a nationwide mandate.