KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — The United States has mandated Covid-19 vaccination or regular tests for workers across the country amid vaccine hesitancy.
CNN reported that the mandate by US president Joe Biden covers two-thirds of all employees in the country including federal employees and those who work with businesses with over 100 employees.
Biden’s Covid-19 response plan includes six major aspects — vaccinate the unvaccinated, administration of booster shots to enhance protection of the vaccinated population, keep schools open, increase Covid-19 testing measures and wearing of masks, economic recovery measures, and improve care for Covid-19 patients.
The new announcement from the White House came amid a surge of coronavirus infections, potentially due to highly transmissible variants like Delta.
About 64.5 per cent of the US adult population have been fully inoculated with Covid-19 vaccine as of September 9. That means that only slightly more than half, 53.4 per cent, of the country’s total population has been fully vaccinated.
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us.” Biden was quoted as saying.
“We’re in a tough stretch and it could last for a while.”
Biden also instructed businesses with 100 or more staff to conduct Covid-19 tests once a week if employees are not vaccinated. Failure to do so may result in huge fines for the companies.
Although Biden acknowledged that the new measures are not a quick fix to the current scenario in the country, his administration is now focusing on handling persistent vaccine hesitancy among a fraction of Americans.
The president also called on state governors to ensure compulsory vaccination for school staff and teachers.
Besides that, some 17 million health care workers in hospitals, home care facilities, and dialysis centres were also included in the vaccine mandate.
“We have the tools to combat the virus if we come together to use those tools,”
Furthermore, Biden announced a free wide Covid-19 testing initiative as part of critical public health measures, as students have returned to schools and workers began going back to work.
Entertainment venues in the US will only allow fully vaccinated people or those who acquired negative Covid-19 test results, whereas fines will be imposed on public transit passengers who refuse to wear a mask.
“If you break the rules, be prepared to pay,” he added.
US health care facilities are running beyond capacity to accommodate a huge surge of fresh Covid-19 infections, even after some six months into the vaccination drive.
The US recorded a total of 26,800 Covid-19 fatalities and more than 4.2 million infections in August.