Last Thursday, US President Joe Biden announced new rules requiring nearly 100 million adults in the United States to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The move, meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus, has upset many Republican leaders.
The new rules require people working for the US government and health care workers across the country to get vaccinated. The rules also say that all companies with more than 100 workers must require their workers to either get vaccinated or be tested weekly. In all, the new rules will affect about 100 million people.
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In his speech, Mr. Biden outlined six points to help bring the coronavirus under control. But it was clear that he is losing patience with US adults who haven’t gotten vaccinated. Talking about the nearly 80 million adults who have not yet been vaccinated, Mr. Biden said, “This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Just 54% of all US adults have been fully vaccinated. Around 63% have had at least one vaccination dose. Many countries in other parts of the world have vaccinated 70% or more of their adults.
Vaccines and Variants
Though vaccinations are the best known method of getting the coronavirus under control, new variants of the virus have allowed the disease to spread, even with over half of the people in the US vaccinated.
The Delta variant is especially worrying, since it spreads easily and can cause more serious illness. It’s the most common coronavirus variant in the US now.
Compared to people who are vaccinated, people who aren’t vaccinated are five times more likely to catch the Delta variant, 10 times more likely to go to the hospital because of it, and 11 times more likely to die of it.
Currently in the US, nearly 150,000 people a day catch the coronavirus. On average, around 1,500 Americans are dying from it daily. Over 675,000 lives have been lost to Covid-19 in the US since the pandemic began.
Mr. Biden’s announcement was generally welcomed by large businesses. Some businesses already required their workers to get vaccinated. But for others, the new rule allows them to avoid the responsibility for forcing workers to get vaccinated. Now they can claim they are simply following government rules.
But Republican leaders , especially governors in southern states, are opposing Mr. Biden’s move. Republican-led states in the south have some of the lowest rates of vaccinations, and the highest rates of coronavirus cases. In many of these states, hospital systems are being pushed beyond their limits.
Still, many Republican leaders see getting vaccinated as a personal choice. They argue that by forcing people to get vaccinated, Mr. Biden is limiting the rights of people to make their own decisions. Many Republican governors say Mr. Biden’s new rules are against the law. Several have promised to take him to court.
Many law experts, though, say Mr. Biden’s vaccination rule will probably be supported by the courts. In the past, the government has required other vaccinations, and the courts have supported this position. Even though Mr. Biden’s new rule goes farther than earlier vaccination requirements, experts believe it’s likely to hold up in court.
The new rules mark a big change in attitude for Mr. Biden. In the past, Mr. Biden has encouraged, but not forced, people to get vaccinated, get tested, and wear masks. The new rules are likely to make political arguments over vaccines and mask-wearing a much bigger battle.
Still, health experts say that the new rules are likely to cut the spread of the coronavirus across the country – even in states that are fighting the move.
Note: The coronavirus pandemic can be confusing and scary. Though we know many of the steps needed to control it, the effects of the virus are very real and very serious. If this article brings up questions or worries for you, be sure to discuss them with an adult you trust.