President Joe Biden took his COVID-19 vaccine requirement policy on the road Thursday, encouraging those concerned about “mass firings” and “hundreds of people losing their jobs” to focus on “the bigger story.”
During a speech at an Illinois construction site, Biden defended the policy but admitted he had been reluctant to introduce a vaccine mandate, saying it was not his “first instinct.”
“Let’s be clear: When you see headlines and reports of mass firings and hundreds of people losing their jobs, look at the bigger story,” he said, seemingly meaning more people in the workforce are now vaccinated.
“The vaccination requirements are tough medicine: unpopular with some, politics for others,” he said. “But they’re life-saving, they’re game-changing for our country.”
Biden announced his vaccine mandate one month ago, which means roughly 100 million people will need to get tested weekly if they are not fully inoculated against the novel coronavirus. But the Labor Department, more specifically the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is still developing the “emergency” rule — and the lack of information has created uncertainty for businesses and workers.
The problem for Biden is vaccine requirements are a divisive issue. Polling suggests a majority of people support the measures, but a disproportionate number of minority respondents, who tend to be Democratic voters, do not. And with COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths trending downward, Biden’s argument for the policy is becoming less pointed.
In the meantime, Biden asked employers on Thursday to act independently of his administration after he toured Clayco’s Elk Grove Village construction site and side meetings with public and private leaders. Clayco, one of the Midwest’s largest construction companies, will begin following Biden’s policy before the OSHA rule is published.
“The unvaccinated also put our economy at risk because people are reluctant to go out,” he said. “Because they’re worried they’re going to get sick. I’ve tried everything in my power to get people vaccinated.”
“For folks who haven’t gotten vaccinated, get it done,” he added. “We have a plan. We have the tools … We just have to finish the job.”
The White House hyped Biden’s Illinois trip by releasing a report it claims demonstrates the effectiveness of vaccine mandates, though it coincided with the Food and Drug Administration granting full authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.
“In late July, when the president announced the first vaccination requirement for the federal government, 95 million eligible Americans were unvaccinated,” the report states. Today, thanks in part to vaccination requirements, that number has been reduced to 67 million unvaccinated eligible Americans.”
Before Biden’s speech, White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One vaccine mandates for domestic plane travel were not “off the table.”
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Original Author: Naomi Lim
Original Location: ‘Look at the bigger story’: Biden dismisses unvaccinated losing their jobs