During a speech Thursday in Illinois
, President Biden spoke about his Covid-19 vaccine mandate for employers with more than 100 employees:
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The unvaccinated also put our economy at risk because people are reluctant to go out. Think about this. Even in places where there is no restriction on going to restaurants and gyms and movie theaters, people are not going in anywhere near the numbers.
They're worried they're going to get sick. I've tried everything in my power to get people vaccinated. The first thing I did when I was sworn into office on January 20th is I bought enough vaccine right off the bat to vaccinate every single American. There are only 4 million Americans vaccinated up to that point even though the virus had been around.
Second, we made everyone eligible to get a vaccination and made it easy and convenient to find a place to get vaccinated. 180,000 places around the country.
Third, we gave everyone ample time and information to deal with their concerns. We developed hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives. You did here in the city and the state of Illinois.
And cities and community organizations encouraged vaccinations. Governor? Governor Pritzker, you've done one hell of a job encouraging people before we got to the mandate.
Even after all these mandates we still have more than one-quarter of the people in the United States eligible for vaccinations but didn't get the shot. We know there is no other way to beat the pandemic than to get the vast majority of Americans vaccinated. It is as simple as that.
To spread it to our children, to spread throughout society, our hospitals, the risk of other variants. It is all dangerous and obvious, but we're still not there.
We have to beat this thing.
So while I didn't race to do it right away, that's why I've had to move toward requirements that everyone get vaccinated, or I had the -- where I had the authority to do that. That wasn't my first instinct.
My administration now requires federal workers to be vaccinated and we've also required federal contractors to be vaccinated. If you have a contract with the federal government you have to be vaccinated. We're requiring the active-duty military to be vaccinated. We're making sure health care workers are vaccinated, because if you seek care at a health care facility, you should have a certainty that the people providing that care are protected from Covid and cannot spread it to you.
The Labor Department is going to shortly issue an emergency rule, which I asked for several weeks ago and they're going through the process, to require all employees with more than 100 people, whether they work for the federal government or not, this is within the purview of the Labor Department to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or face testing at least once a week.
In total, this Labor Department vaccination requirement will cover 100 million Americans, about two-thirds of all the people who work in America.