President Joe Biden will direct the Department of Labor to develop a rule that companies with more than 100 employees will require vaccinations or once-per-week testing for their workers, potentially impacting tens of millions of U.S. private-sector employees, according to a White House document (pdf).
The administration’s rule will require that “all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work,” which will impact more than 80 million workers in the private sector.
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to implement the requirement, the document said. It did not make any mention regarding religious exemption or individuals whose doctors have recommended against getting COVID-19 shots.
Biden will further sign an executive order requiring most federal employees and contractors to get a COVID-19 vaccine without the option of getting regular testing, according to the document. Federal workers unions suggested on Thursday they would accept the vaccine mandate.
“As part of this effort, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Indian Health Service, and the National Institute of Health will complete implementation of their previously announced vaccination requirements that cover 2.5 million people,” said the document.
COVID-19 is the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
The new measures, which Biden was slated to describe in remarks at 5 p.m. ET, are being unveiled as part of a more aggressive attempt to push for vaccines.
Under the plan, the administration would also require vaccinations for some 17 million healthcare workers at hospitals and other institutions that participate in Medicaid and Medicare programs, or for programs serving disabled and older people.
Biden will also use the federal government’s authority under the Defense Production Act to spur companies to produce COVID-19 tests, which will then be sold at large retailers around the country.
Meanwhile, the plan is also calling on entertainment venues such as arenas, concert halls, and others to mandate vaccine passports or show a negative test to enter.
“Our overarching objective here is to reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday. “We want to reduce that number, decrease hospitalizations and deaths and allow our children to go to school safely.”
The White House is also planning to offer booster shots for “fully vaccinated” individuals and has targeted Sept. 20 to roll them out. The World Health Organization (WHO) and other groups have said that with limited global vaccine supplies and productions, it’s more needed for wealthier countries to issue a moratorium on boosters until more people are vaccinated around the world.
According to a White House fact sheet, the administration will also continue to mandate masks on federal property and for public transportation.
Previously, the White House said the federal government cannot mandate vaccines nationwide, but it has pressured school districts, businesses, and other entities to require shots.
Reuters contributed to this report.