President Joe Biden put forward a new strategy this week to combat the spread of COVID-19 as daily cases average about 150,000 and hospitalizations surge, particularly in regions with low vaccination rates.
The recent spike in cases, driven largely by the highly contagious Delta variant, has prompted calls for vaccine mandates, from both health officials and policymakers.
“If you are getting federal funding, there should be a vaccine mandate,” Dr. Anand Swaminathan, an emergency medicine physician, told Yahoo Finance Live. “There should be a vaccine mandate for all businesses.”
“We know that mandates help,” Swaminathan added when discussing how to curb the spread of COVID-19. “They help to get more people vaccinated… and we need those mandates in place.”
In his address to the nation Thursday, Biden directed the U.S. Labor Department to require employers with more than 100 workers to mandate vaccines or implement weekly testing, a plan that the Biden administration estimates will affect about 100 million Americans, or two-thirds of the workforce.
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin,” said Biden to nearly one-third of Americans, at least 18 years old, who are not yet fully vaccinated. “And your refusal has cost all of us.”
A recent Gallup poll found that 19% of U.S. workers say their employer is mandating vaccines in order to return to the office, more than double the number from Gallup’s prior July survey. Meanwhile, 55% of employees say their company is encouraging vaccines. Chevron, UPS, Goldman Sachs, Twitter and Facebook are among the employers that announced vaccine mandates for their employees earlier this summer.
But a vaccine mandate is still a divisive issue, and something that’s not supported by an overwhelming majority of the population. A NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll from earlier this month found only about half of U.S. adults support employers requiring vaccines to return to work, while 44% do not.
As of Thursday, about 208 million people, or 62% of the country has received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while 177 million, or 53%, of the population is fully vaccinated.