White House Announces New COVID-19 Measures; Challenges Likely

On Thursday, the White House launched its latest initiative in the fight against COVID-19. The announcement made by President Biden highlighted the impact of COVID-19 and the current extreme hardships imposed by the virus, and announced new measures and mandates to further control the pandemic.

The announcement began with a recounting of the progress that has been made in protecting the US population from the risks of death and severe medical complications from the virus, including a large increase in the percentage of the population that has been fully vaccinated, now at 175 million people.

The President laid out new compulsory actions. These begin with the Department of Labor developing rules to require all employers with 100 or more employees to require vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing for their employees; vacation time must also be provided to allow for vaccination, the President added.

There will also be mandatory vaccination for all employers that receive funds from Medicare and Medicaid, regardless of the size of the employer. Similarly, all federal executive branch employees will require vaccination and all federal contractors will also be required to vaccinate. Finally, all educators participating in Headstart and other federally funded programs will be required to vaccinate.

The vaccine mandates have drawn criticism; Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota implied in a tweet that her office intends to file a lawsuit challenging the new rules.