Biden Rolls Out New Vaccine Plans

[ Posted Thursday, September 9th, 2021 – 16:16 UTC ]

President Joe Biden today gave a speech outlining the next steps the federal government will be taking to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. While some of these steps do not go as far as some had been hoping, there were several which will be significant in upping the pressure on unvaccinated people to get their shots. Although Biden didn't explicitly say so, at this point the best way to convince more people to get vaccinated is to make life harder and harder for the unvaccinated. And Biden took several large steps which will do so.

Early on in his speech, the president stated what average people have been experiencing for a while, throughout the whole Delta spike: "many of us are frustrated" at the 80 million eligible people who still refuse to get vaccinated. The vaccinated people are having to go back to masks and other restrictions because of the unvaccinated -- and they rightfully resent it. A few Democrats (Gavin Newsom in California, Terry McAuliffe in Virginia) are leaning in to this frustration and defining the difference between Democrats and Republicans as one of safety and common sense. Biden moved noticeably in this direction in today's speech, taking a number of potshots at Republican governors who are actively working against safety measures:

The path ahead, even with the Delta variant, is not nearly as bad as last winter, but what makes it incredibly more frustrating is that we have the tools to combat COVID-19 and a distinct minority of Americans supported by a distinct minority of elected officials are keeping us from turning the corner. These pandemic politics are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die.

. . .

There are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19. Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they are ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying of COVID in their communities. This is totally unacceptable. This is not about freedom or personal choice. This is about protecting yourself and those around you.

Democrats would do well to follow Biden's lead and make this explicitly political -- Democrats stand for safety and common sense, Republicans stand for recklessness and death. That is not hyperbole in the least, because that is precisely what the governors of Texas, Florida, and other red states are doing. They are pro-death, plain and simple.

Biden's six-point plan covers a number of programs and initiatives (the White House has a web page explaining what each of the points are, if you're interested). Several of these stuck out as more far-reaching and impactful than others.

One of the biggest will be a new requirement from the Department of Labor that mandates either vaccination or weekly testing for all workers at any business with 100 or more employees. This is weaker than an all-out vaccine mandate, but it should make life a lot more difficult for a lot more unvaccinated people. The new rule will affect 80 million workers -- two-thirds of the entire workforce. Employers will also be required to provide paid time off for employees to get vaccinated, which should also help boost rates.

Another big move will be requiring vaccinations -- a true mandate -- for all federal workers and all federal contractors. Several departments have already done so (the military and the V.A.), but this will extend the mandate to all federal workers and contractors. There will be no testing opt-out, although the standard medical and religious exemptions will be granted.

The third major initiative will be to require any healthcare facility that takes money from either Medicare or Medicaid to vaccinate all their workers. Everyone who goes to the hospital or even just a doctor's office deserves to know that everyone who works there is vaccinated, Biden said, and he's right. Previously the administration had mandated vaccines for all nursing home employees (in the ones that take Medicare and Medicaid money), but this order will expand this mandate to 17 million healthcare workers in 50,000 facilities across the country.

Biden is much more limited in what he can do for America's schools, since it is largely a state or local function. He did announce vaccine mandates for schools run by the federal government (Head Start programs, Bureau of Indian Affairs schools, and Defense Department schools), but this is a very small percentage of all schools. Biden called on all states to adopt vaccine requirements for all school employees, but that's optimistic at best, since the only governors or state legislatures likely to respond are Democratic ones. Republicans are already marching in the opposite direction. Biden excoriated these governors for banning safety measures in local school districts and threatening to withhold people's pay, snidely noting: "Talk about bullying in schools!" Biden swore that the federal government would make up any pay that any state withheld from any school district employees for political reasons, telling such employees (most notably, in Florida): "I will have your back."

There were other initiatives in Biden's plan as well, including increasing production of rapid test kits and making them available to the consumer at cost over the next three months. COVID-19 disaster loans to small businesses will be boosted from $500,000 to $2 million. The military will help the hardest-hit areas by doubling the number of military medical teams sent in to deal with the wave of hospitalizations. Production of monoclonal antibodies will increase by 50 percent. All of these will help.

There was one big step that Biden didn't take, however. He announced that fines for not properly wearing a mask on airplanes will double, and he had some strong words for those who have been caught on camera attacking flight attendants. But he stopped short of taking a step many have been urging him to take -- Biden could have instituted a ban on flying (and riding trains and buses as well) for all unvaccinated passengers who don't have a valid exemption. But he didn't. Perhaps if the Delta wave continues without cresting he will eventually take this step, but he did not do so today.

President Biden really needed to address the nation on COVID-19, and he needed to show some leadership. His approval ratings for how he is handling the pandemic -- one of the highest rates of approval for any single issue for him throughout his presidency -- have fallen recently in the midst of the Delta spike. So Biden had to take charge and make some needed changes.

Biden was right from the very beginning. Vaccinated people are becoming more than just a little frustrated with the unvaccinated among us. They are the ones who are driving the Delta wave. If they had gotten vaccinated, this spike would have been a lot lower on the charts and less severe for everyone. The unvaccinated are also the ones who have made it necessary for everyone to again accept restrictions we all thought we were done with.

The only way to change this is to increase the pressure on the unvaccinated to do the right thing. Make life harder and harder for them. The time for coaxing and gently prodding and even bribing them to get vaccinated is really over. If they haven't gotten their shots by now, then they aren't going to -- unless they get told that they will get fired for not doing so.

Vaccinated Americans -- which now includes more than 75 percent of those eligible -- are getting fed up, and for good reason. The 25 percent remaining are making things much worse for everyone. Only one out of 160,000 vaccinated people wind up in the hospital with COVID-19, Biden told us today. All the other beds hold unvaccinated patients -- which means those beds are not available to people who require intensive care. This is a matter of life and death for everyone. Biden did a good job of summing up this frustration: "The time for waiting is over."

It is high time to make the lives of the unvaccinated harder. President Biden took some very large steps in that direction today, and he will probably be rewarded for doing so by a majority of the public. The anti-vaxxers are very loud and annoying, but they are in no way a majority. And the rest of us are fed up with their nonsense. The more that all Democrats understand this and lean in to such measures, the better.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


10 Comments on “Biden Rolls Out New Vaccine Plans”

  1. [1] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    ooh! ooh! i have a talking point to suggest!

    pro-life or pro-death? republican politicians can't seem to make up their minds!

    not quite the same ring to it as 'pie or die' but darn close!


  2. [2] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    K, I'm too new around here to have witnessed the birth of, well, your pie obsession, so would you kindly dish the
    highlights? If it really resonates with me we could maybe start a religion. A religion,, year verily,, that makes more sense than Flying Spaghetti Monster but perhaps less than John Oliver's Lady of Perpetual Exemption

  3. [3] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:

    So, whaddup with pie?

  4. [4] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    "...the best way to convince more people to get vaccinated is to make life harder for the unvaccinated."


    Okay, if you insist- but rememeber that you said it.

    There is still time to take the One Demand vaccine before I follow your advice.

    Take the vaccine.

  5. [5] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    The origin of the pie obsession is cowardice.

  6. [6] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:


    Why would anyone take the OD vaccine? In it's seven year pre-clinical trials it's efficacy was considerably lower than a placebo...

  7. [7] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    Cheap shots like that only makes you look more pathetic.

  8. [8] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    Don Qui-

    Okay, if you insist- but rememeber that you said it.

    There is still time to take the One Demand vaccine before I follow your advice.

    What pray tell are you going to do? Pollute more pixels? Marshal your army of the 4 family members who took pity on you to take down CW's website? or trash CW in the comments section of a failed comedian or a once great consumer protectionist but failed politician?

    We are all just quaking in fear behind our keyboards. Look out here comes the mighty Don Qui.

    While we are waiting for more of that brilliance that comes from an education that stopped at some point during high school, and setting aside the fact that you lied about being a non-profit, perhaps you can tell us exactly how you will get invalid ballots counted for One Dumbman. You said you would do it by FOIA if you had to ( which you will have to since out of the 34 states that allow write ins to be counted only for REGISTERED candidates, none are planning on passing new requirements to allow for all write ins to be counted). Please tell all of us exactly how you plan on doing know... things like who you are going to FOIA, what information you are going to request, how you are going to safeguard the information received (something you fail to do on that cobweb you call a website), we want real details, you know details like the ones where the devil lives.

    Bet you can't....

  9. [9] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    (sound of crickets)

  10. [10] 
    MtnCaddy wrote:


    (more sound of crickets)

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