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White House announces new vaccine mandates

In a new COVID strategy announced on Sept. 9, President Joe Biden enacted sweeping vaccine mandates that would affect workers at private companies or corporations as well as many federal workers. While it doesn’t make vaccines required across the board, it may affect students who fit the requirements mentioned below. 

One order states employers with 100 or more workers now must require their workers to be vaccinated or to be tested weekly. This directive also says the workers will be given paid time off for vaccination. “This requirement will impact over 80 million workers in private sector businesses with 100+ employees,” according to whitehouse.gov. 

Another stipulation of the new plan is any federal employee and health care worker who receives Medicare or Medicaid payments is required to seek vaccination. The whitehouse.gov also states it is “requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for over 17 Million health care workers at Medicare and Medicaid participating hospitals and other health care settings.” 

Biden has laid out other precautions in the new plan, urging governors and large venues to put their own mandates into effect to keep the general public safe. 

coivd vaccine shot
Graphic by Chris Swann

In addition to the new federal mandates, states are still putting their own plans into effect in an attempt to stop the growth of new cases following the resurgence due to the Delta variant. According to data found on the site MultiState, Texas currently has no such mandates. The only policy in effect when it comes to vaccination is one that preempts locally run businesses from mandating a vaccine. 

“I can understand it,” said Anakin Layton, TJC freshman business major. “The only thing I have an issue with is depending on how close the workers are to each other. For example, if all the employees are in separate rooms, I don’t see the need for it. But, if they are all close to each other like a warehouse or factory then I understand the need.”

According to data found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website over the week of Sept. 13 to Sept. 20, Smith County has had 2,237 confirmed cases, while Texas as a whole has had 106,801 confirmed cases. 

“I think it’s understandable because he wants to keep everyone safe,” said Isabela Salazar, TJC freshman art major. “Some people don’t even follow the mandates in effect now, so I see the need for more.” 

While there is no current vaccine mandate for all U.S. citizens, the CDC shows as of Sept. 20, 63.9% of the population has at least one dose of the vaccine and 54.7% have been fully vaccinated. 

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Isaura Munoz, TJC sophomore dental hygiene major. “I think a lot of people are scared [of the vaccine] because it’s such a new thing. But at the end of the day, wouldn’t it make you feel better to take the steps to be safe because it’s better than nothing.”

Many of these stances taken by Biden were met with negative feedback from some of his contemporaries. According to Virginia Allen with the Washington Examiner: “Arizona’s Attorney General Mark Brnovich is suing President Joe Biden and other administration officials over the new COVID-19 vaccine mandate.” Other officials calling out the actions according to The New York Times and The Guardian include Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, and Tennessee State Rep. Vincent Dixie.

While there are plenty of officials opposing the new propositions, there are those praising it, as well. The governor of Vermont Phil Scott is a good example of this. Many public health experts agree with Biden’s stance, although some, like the executive director of the American Public Health Association, Dr. Georges Benjamin, claim the action might have been “too little, too late.”

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