Politics

Biden touts vaccine mandates, economic benefits of shots with business leaders



President Biden on Wednesday said “vaccine requirements work” as he promoted his COVID-19 plan in a meeting with executives from Microsoft, Disney and other large companies.

Mr. Biden said Louisiana State University imposed a mandate and saw results within weeks, lifting its vaccination rate from 63% to 81% of students. He said companies are seeing similar results.

Tyson Foods saw its vaccination rate jump from 45% to 72% less than a month after the mandate went into effect, according to the White House. United Airlines saw an increase from 59% to 79% less than a month after requiring the shots.

“The vaccine requirements work, and more companies are instituting them — even Fox News is requiring it. I am not being facetious when I say that, but it’s interesting that they’ve stepped forward and done that as well,” Mr. Biden told Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, White House COVID-19 Coordinator Jeff Zients and assembled business leaders.

Mr. Biden highlighted parts of his six-step plan to combat the coronavirus. He said federal workers and millions of health workers must get vaccinated while companies with at least 100 workers must require the shots or conduct weekly testing.

The private-sector rules are the most controversial part of Mr. Biden’s plan and will be governed by regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Companies are waiting on OSHA to fill in the details, though they might have to wait a bit longer — even as the administration races against the fast-moving delta variant on the cusp of the colder months.

“The Labor Department is working on the emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more workers to ensure that workers are coming back and ready to be tested. It’s going to take a little bit for them to put those requirements in place under the law,” Mr. Biden told leaders.

Roughly 54% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Three-quarters of eligible Americans aged 12 and older have come forward for at least one dose, yet Mr. Biden says the quarter who have resisted are causing damage by allowing the virus to proliferate.

He said using mandates to lift the vaccination rate will pay economic dividends.

“Vaccinations will have a positive impact on employment, which means less threat of COVID, which will help people return to work,” Mr. Biden said.

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