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Biden announces new COVID-19 vaccine mandates

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is announcing a vaccine mandate that affects employers with more than 100 workers. The companies will have to test the unvaccinated once a week.

The U.S. Department of Labor will be enforcing the mandate. Biden said United Airlines and Walt Disney are among the companies that are already executing this policy.

“This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you,” Biden said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden is also doubling federal fines for airline passengers who refuse to wear masks on flights or on federal property as part of an “overarching objective” to “reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans.”

Biden said nursing home workers treating patients who have Medicaid or Medicare and teachers in Head Start Program should also be vaccinated. The mandate also applies to federal contractors. Biden also sent an implied message to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“School officials are trying to keep children safe in a pandemic while their governor picks a fight with them and even threatens or their jobs — talk about bullying in schools. If these governors won’t help us, I will use my powers as president to get them out of the way.”

Biden said his Path Out of the Pandemic plan also addresses state officials who are “undermining protections” during the pandemic.

“We are in the tough stretch and it could last for a while,” Biden said.

The Transportation Safety Administration will double the fines for people who refuse to wear face masks, Biden said.

Those who don’t have religious or medical exemptions will have 75 days to comply with the mandate, Psaki said. The White House estimates 80 million Americans have yet to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

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About the Author:

Ben Kennedy is an Emmy Award-winning Washington Bureau Chief for Local 10 News. He has more than a decade of reporting experience nationwide.