TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tens of millions of Americans are facing a new work requirement — the COVID-19 vaccine.
President Joe Biden announced a new strategy Thursday to tackle the pandemic.
“We’ve been patient but our patience is wearing thin and the refusal has cost us,” Biden said. “This is not about freedom or personal choice it’s about protecting yourself and those around you.”
The president’s new plan requires nearly all federal workers to receive the shot. It also applies to the contractors who do business with the federal government and their employees. Those who do not comply could face consequences.
The mandate is expected to impact up to 100 million Americans.
“We are going to protect vaccinated workers from their unvaccinated coworkers,” explains President Biden.
Additionally, the president is telling employers with more than 100 team members to require the vaccine or perform weekly COVID-19 tests. Owners who don’t abide could face fines.
Biden cannot require the vaccine for all Americans, but he’s putting the heat on states to require the shot for teachers and school staff.
Air travelers who refuse to mask up will face double the fines.
“If you break the rules, be prepared to pay – and by the way, show some respect,” he said.
The plan also makes the vaccine a requirement for 17 million healthcare workers who work for centers that provide Medicare and Medicaid services.
Southwest Florida’s largest healthcare provider is following the new guidelines.
BayCare will mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for team members. The healthcare system, which runs 14 acute-care hospitals in the Tampa Bay area and employs over 28,000 employees, said 44 percent of their employees are currently unvaccinated.