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President Joe Biden has announced a series of new incentives for individuals and businesses such as paying people $100 to get shots, as well as requirements for certain government entities to vaccinate their employees against Covid-19, amid growing concern at the spread of the Delta variant.
Among the incentives the White House announced were that companies would be reimbursed if they offered not only their employees paid time off to get vaccinated, but also their family members.
“That means employers can be reimbursed if they give parents paid leave to take their kids or get their parents,” the president said. “I promise it will cost you, the employer, nothing.”
Mr Biden also called on state and local governments to use money they received from the American Rescue Plan to give $100 to people who get fully vaccinated.
“I know that paying people to get vaccinated might sound unfair to folks who’ve gotten fully vaccinated already,” Mr Biden said. “But here’s the deal, if incentives help us beat this virus, I believe we should use them.”
The president also announced requirements would be imposed for key groups to make sure they are vaccinated, noting how the Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced it would mandate doctors, nurses and other health care workers be vaccinated. He also announced that since service members are already required to receive other vaccines, he would ask the US Department of Defense how and when they will add Covid-19 to mandatory vaccinations.
“Our men and women in uniform who protect this country from grave threats should be protected as much as possible from getting Covid 19,” he said.
Similarly, Mr Biden said every federal government employee will be asked to attest to their vaccination status.
“Anyone who does not attest or is not vaccinated will require to mask no matter where they work, test one or two times a week to see if they’ve acquired Covid, and generally will not be allowed to travel for work,” he said. He added he would ask his administration to take similar steps for federal contractors.
“If you want to do business with the federal government, get your workers vaccinated,” he said.
He also commended the NFL for saying if there are outbreaks among unvaccinated players and personnel, a team would risk forfeiting games.
“I urge other sport leagues at every level to take every step they can,” he said.
The president also added that the US Department of Justice has said it is legal to require Covid-19 vaccines.
“We all want our lives to get back to normal,” he said, adding that fully vaccinated workers will facilitate that. “We all know that in our gut.”
Mr Biden said the administration was prepared for outbreaks in areas with large numbers of unvaccinated people and that federal resources like surge teams composed of experts from the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“We’re going to continue to provide states with more testing, treatments, protective equipment, personnel, mobile vaccination clinics to stem the surge of the virus among the vaccinations,” he said.