Who’s covered by Biden’s new vaccine mandates?

 

Joey Garrison, Courtney Subramanian, Rick Rouan and Mabinty Quarshie, USA TODAY  

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Business vaccine mandates: Biden announces new rules that will affect 100 million workers

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 09: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about combatting the coronavirus pandemic in the State Dining Room of the White House on September 9, 2021 in Washington, DC. As the Delta variant continues to spread around the United States, Biden outlined his administration's six point plan, including a requirement that all federal workers be vaccinated against Covid-19. Biden is also instructing the Department of Labor to draft a rule mandating that all businesses with 100 or more employees require their workers to get vaccinated or face weekly testing. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775706084 ORIG FILE ID: 1339350178© Kevin Dietsch, Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 09: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about combatting the coronavirus pandemic in the State Dining Room of the White House on September 9, 2021 in Washington, DC. As the Delta variant continues to spread around the United States, Biden outlined his administration’s six point plan, including a requirement that all federal workers be vaccinated against Covid-19. Biden is also instructing the Department of Labor to draft a rule mandating that all businesses with 100 or more employees require their workers to get vaccinated or face weekly testing. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775706084 ORIG FILE ID: 1339350178The Biden administration also ordered that all federal employees and employees of government contractors must be vaccinated.

Here’s what we know about the president’s new plan to fight the pandemic.

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What did the administration order and what’s the authority to do so?

Biden said the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration would issue an “emergency temporary standard” that mandates employers with 100 or more workers require the vaccine or conduct weekly testing of unvaccinated employees.

The administration is also requiring employers with more than 100 employees to provide paid time off to allow workers to get vaccinated or recover if they are ill after the shot.

OSHA has the power to issue those standards until a permanent standard is developed when “workers are in grave danger” from exposure to toxic substances or agents or to new hazards, according to its website.

For example, in June, it issued an emergency temporary standard requiring health care employers to provide N95 masks and other personal protective equipment to some employees and ensure social distancing. The orders are subject to challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

More: ‘Patience is wearing thin’: Biden rolls out vaccine requirements that will affect 100 million workers

Who does the vaccine mandate cover?

The vaccine mandate covers all private employers with more than 100 employees, meaning it will generally apply to corporations and other large businesses. In all, more than 80 million workers are affected.

If workers choose not to be vaccinated, they would have to pass a weekly COVID-19 test to come to work.

Biden singled out some companies that already have vaccination requirements: United Airlines, Disney, Tyson Foods and “even Fox News.”

More: Won’t get a COVID-19 vaccine? Some bosses may charge you $20 to $50 more for health insurance on every paycheck

Who does it not cover?

Smaller private businesses with fewer than 100 people are not included in the mandate. However, Biden issued vaccination mandates for other workers as well. They include most federal government workers, all 17 million workers at nursing home facilities and hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds and staff of federal Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

In all, Biden said the mandates cover about 100 million Americans, or two-thirds of the U.S. workforce.

Biden also called for COVID-19- vaccines to be required to attend sports arenas, large concert halls and other venues where large groups of people gather. Yet he did not single out outdoor football games.

Who counts as a federal worker?

The vaccine order for the federal government requires all federal executive branch workers to be vaccinated as well as all employees of federal contractors.

It covers about 90% of approximately 4 million federal workers but does not apply to non-executive branch employees such as members of Congress or judicial employees.

In addition, the order covers federal departments and agencies that have already started to implement vaccination mandates: the military and other service members under the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Indian Health Service, and the National Institutes of Health.

Previously, Biden in July required federal employees show they have been vaccinated or undergo regular testing.

When will this start?

It was unclear on Thursday when exactly the requirements would take effect. OSHA is expected to issue the rule “in the coming weeks,” according to the White House, and implementation could follow a timeline similar to those in the public and private sectors. In some cases, those have ranged from weeks to months. 

The exact timeframe will be dependent on the rulemaking process.

What about HIPAA? How can employers ask for this?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, know as HIPAA, prevents health care professionals from sharing private health information without the patient’s permission. It does not apply to those outside of a health care setting, such as businesses and individuals, asking questions about a person’s vaccine status, experts say.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission previously issued guidelines in May that allow employers to require on-site employees be vaccinated, provided they don’t violate civil rights and disability laws. In July, the Department of Justice also announced that federal law does not prohibit federal agencies or private businesses from mandating vaccines.

What are the punishments for businesses that don’t comply?

Businesses that do not comply with Biden’s directive will face “substantial fines” up to $14,000, according to a senior administration official. The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will enforce the fine. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Who’s covered by Biden’s new vaccine mandates? When do they go into effect? Here’s what we know.

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MADRID — Spain’s foreign minister is in Islamabad for talks with Pakistani officials aimed at easing the transit of Afghan people who worked with Spain before Afghanistan’s fall into the hands of the Taliban.Taliban fighters sit in a pickup truck at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Some 200 foreigners, including Americans, flew out of Afghanistan on an international commercial flight from Kabul airport on Thursday, the first such large-scale departure since U.S and foreign forces concluded their frantic withdrawal at the end of last month. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)© Provided by Associated Press Taliban fighters sit in a pickup truck at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Some 200 foreigners, including Americans, flew out of Afghanistan on an international commercial flight from Kabul airport on Thursday, the first such large-scale departure since U.S and foreign forces concluded their frantic withdrawal at the end of last month. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares is scheduled to hold meetings with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and his counterpart, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, among other officials.

In a video released by the Spanish ministry, Albares said that the goal was to hold talks “with one of the main key players in the region” and find ways to “leave no one behind.” The minister said he would give assurances to the Pakistani government that Spain’s embassy would deal fast with Afghans who worked for the country in order for them not to become a burden for Pakistan.

Albares’ is the first trip by a Spanish foreign minister to Pakistan in 70 years of diplomatic relations.

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MORE ON AFGHANISTAN:

— Flight takes about 200, including Americans, out of Kabul

— Pentagon chief: al-Qaida may seek comeback in Afghanistan

— Analysis: Taliban hard-line path worsens Afghanistan dilemma

— As flights resume, plight of Afghan allies tests Biden’s vow

— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/afghanistan

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FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2021 file photo, Taliban fighters stand guard inside the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. withdrawal in Kabul, Afghanistan. Taliban authorities will allow between 100 and 150 Americans to fly out from Kabul in the coming hours, Qatari officials said on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, marking the airport’s first such flight since U.S. forces withdrew from the country. The large group of foreigners, including Americans and other Westerners, would depart Thursday on a Qatar Airways flight that had earlier ferried humanitarian aid to the country, officials said. (AP Photo/Kathy Gannon, File)© Provided by Associated Press FILE – In this Aug. 31, 2021 file photo, Taliban fighters stand guard inside the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. withdrawal in Kabul, Afghanistan. Taliban authorities will allow between 100 and 150 Americans to fly out from Kabul in the coming hours, Qatari officials said on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, marking the airport’s first such flight since U.S. forces withdrew from the country. The large group of foreigners, including Americans and other Westerners, would depart Thursday on a Qatar Airways flight that had earlier ferried humanitarian aid to the country, officials said. (AP Photo/Kathy Gannon, File)ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s foreign minister says it is the collective responsibility of the international community to help Afghanistan to avert a humanitarian crisis.

In a statement Friday, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that despite having limited resources, Pakistan a day earlier sent a plane carrying food and medicines to Kabul. Qureshi said more such aid will be dispatched to Afghanistan via land routes.

Qureshi made his comments ahead of the visit of his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel Albares, who was expected to arrive in the capital, Islamabad, later Friday, for talks on Afghanistan.

Foreigners board a Qatar Airways aircraft at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Some 200 foreigners, including Americans, flew out of Afghanistan on an international commercial flight from Kabul airport on Thursday, the first such large-scale departure since U.S and foreign forces concluded their frantic withdrawal at the end of last month. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)© Provided by Associated Press Foreigners board a Qatar Airways aircraft at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. Some 200 foreigners, including Americans, flew out of Afghanistan on an international commercial flight from Kabul airport on Thursday, the first such large-scale departure since U.S and foreign forces concluded their frantic withdrawal at the end of last month. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)Qureshi said that a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan wouldn’t be anyone’s interest — in the region or in the world.

Pakistan wants the international community to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets to enable Kabul use its own money to avert a worsening humanitarian crisis.

The Taliban government currently does not have access to the Afghanistan central bank’s $9 billion in reserves, most of which is held by the New York Federal Reserve. These reserves were blocked amid last month’s political turmoil in Afghanistan.

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UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations development agency says Afghanistan is teetering on the brink of “universal poverty” which could become a reality in the middle of next year unless urgent efforts are made to bolster local communities and their economies.

It said the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has put 20 years of steady economic gains at risk.

The U.N. Development Program outlined four scenarios for Afghanistan following the Taliban’s Aug. 15 assumption of power that predict the country’s GDP will decline between 3.6% and 13.2% in the next fiscal year starting in June 2022, depending on the intensity of the crisis and how much the world engages with the Taliban. That is in sharp contrast to the expected 4% growth in GDP before the fall of the government.

“Afghanistan pretty much faces universal poverty by the middle of next year,” Kanni Wignaraja, UNDP’s Asia-Pacific Director, told a news conference Thursday launching its 28-page assessment. “That’s where we’re heading — it’s 97-98% (poverty rate) no matter how you work these projections.”

Taliban soldiers gather with weapons and machinery in Panjshir province northeastern of Afghanistan, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Mohammad Asif Khan)© Provided by Associated Press Taliban soldiers gather with weapons and machinery in Panjshir province northeastern of Afghanistan, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Mohammad Asif Khan)Currently, the poverty rate is 72% and Wignaraja pointed to many development gains after the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001: Per capita income more than doubled in the last 20 years, life expectancy at birth was extended by about nine years, the number of years of schooling rose from six to 10, “and we got women into university.”

Taliban soldiers stand guard in Panjshir province northeastern of Afghanistan, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Mohammad Asif Khan)© Provided by Associated Press Taliban soldiers stand guard in Panjshir province northeastern of Afghanistan, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Mohammad Asif Khan)But she said Afghanistan now faces “a humanitarian and development disaster” resulting from political instability, frozen foreign reserves, a collapsed public finance system, “a crush on local banking because of this,” as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taliban soldiers stand guard in Panjshir province, northeastern of Afghanistan, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Mohammad Asif Khan)© Provided by Associated Press Taliban soldiers stand guard in Panjshir province, northeastern of Afghanistan, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Mohammad Asif Khan)____

UNITED NATIONS — The United States has a message for the Taliban: If it lives up to all its commitments, brings greater stability to Afghanistan and the region, demonstrates widespread inclusion, and protects the gains of the last 20 years “we’ll work with it.”

But U.S. deputy ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, who delivered the message at a U.N. Security Council meeting on Thursday, stressed that “any legitimacy and support will have to be earned.”

He said the standards the international community has set are clear and include facilitating safe passage for Afghans and foreign nationals who want to leave Afghanistan and respecting the country’s obligations under international humanitarian law “including those related to the protection of civilians.”

“We’re watching closely to see that those standards are met,” he said.

DeLaurentis told the council that following the U.S. withdrawal and the Taliban takeover, Afghanistan needs the United Nations and the U.N. political mission in the country “more than ever.”

He said “the United States remains committed to the people of Afghanistan,” and as the country’s largest humanitarian donor it is helping partners on the ground provide assistance, “but the needs are vast.”

With the diplomatic footprint in the country reduced, DeLaurentis said, “the U.N. has a vitally important role to play” not only in coordinating aid but in preventing human rights violations and abuses and pursuing accountability for those that have occurred, and in protecting children and civilians.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden took his most aggressive action yet in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, ordering employers with 100 or more workers to ensure their workforce is entirely vaccinated or face weekly tests.

 

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