President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a six-point plan to combat the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic, but one point drew most of the attention: a sweeping vaccine mandate.
Speaking from the White House, Biden announced federal rules that could affect as many as 100 million Americans, according to Associated Press estimates. The plan includes requiring private employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccination or weekly testing for the virus.
The rules also require vaccination—no testing option—for all federal employees, federal contractors, and workers at healthcare facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding.
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said as part of biting criticism directed toward unvaccinated Americans.
The mandates, which include medical and religious exemptions, drew swift criticism from Republicans and some union leaders.
“Mandates are not the answer,” tweeted Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., whose district includes Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist, Suwannee and Columbia counties. “Getting the vaccine should be up to you and your doctor—not the federal government.”
Some Republicans immediately threatened legal action, echoing recent events in Gainesville. Last month the Gainesville City Commission narrowly voted to require city employees to get vaccinated, but more than 200 promptly challenged the mandate in court.