White House releases COVID-19 action plan

President Joe Biden has released a COVID-19 action plan to combat the virus.

The six-pronged, comprehensive strategy was announced with sharp words from the president, who stated the new strategy was a result of vaccination refusals. The plan includes vaccination requirements for employers with 100 or more employees in the private sector, adding to previous requirements he issued in July for federal workers. Health care workers are also included in the new plan. 

The strategy aims to “ensure that we are using every available tool to combat COVID-19 and save even more lives in the months ahead, while also keeping schools open and safe, and protecting our economy from lockdowns and damage,” Biden said.

Vaccination requirements have been met with some blowback by workers across sectors, including healthcare. Republican lawmakers also signaled they believed the President was overstepping his authority in his demands for the private sector, and it’s possible lawsuits are to come to block the rules.

The American Hospital Association noted that while it supports vaccinations for all healthcare workers, the requirements from Biden may impact the ongoing workforce shortage in the sector. 

“As a practical matter, this policy may result in exacerbating the severe workforce shortage problems that currently exist,” AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a statement. “Consequently, given the critical challenges that we are facing in maintaining the resiliency of our workforce, and dealing with severe shortages, which the American Nurses Association has called a national crisis, we call on the Administration to work with us as partners in developing aggressive and creative strategies to address this matter to ensure that hospitals and health systems on the front lines of fighting the battle against COVID-19 have the necessary human resources to both win this battle and maintain essential health services for the patients and communities we serve.”

However, the rule also allows employers to test weekly instead of mandating vaccination. The rule affects roughly 80 million workers, plus 17 workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid, the AP reported.

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