President Joe Biden announced new measures his administration is taking to combat what he called the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” as the US continues to see rising coronavirus cases due in large part to a highly-transmissible variant.
Biden said the Delta variant has prompted US health authorities to advise him that cases will continue to climb before going down, describing it as an “American tragedy,” but said the spike would unlikely be joined by a comparable rise in hospitalizations and deaths because some 164 million Americans are fully vaccinated.
“Vaccines are the best defense against you getting severely ill from COVID-19. The very best defense,” the president said in the East Room. “The pictures of hospitals in several states overloaded with patients is unnecessary, avoidable and tragic. We’ll help any health system overloaded and unable to cope with the spike in cases. We’re ready to do that.”
He further spoke to the frustrations of many who got the jab only to now face the prospect of returning to virus-related restrictions as cases grow and daily vaccination rates decline.
“I understand that many of you in the majority are frustrated with the consequences of the failure of the minority to get vaccinated. But I want you to know I’m going to continue to do everything I can to encourage the unvaccinated to get vaccinated. That includes addressing hesitancy and misinformation head-on,” he said.
The president announced a bevy of new measures he is taking, including mandating that unvaccinated federal workers don masks and socially distance in the workplace and be subject to rigorous testing that will take place once or twice a week. He encouraged private employers to enact the same measures.
He further called on state and local governments to offer $100 incentives to get anyone who is unvaccinated to get the jab by using unutilized stimulus funds and ordered the Pentagon to study how and when it will add the COVID-19 vaccine to its list of required vaccinations for service members.
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