President Joe Biden is directing all nursing homes to require their staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to keep receiving federal funds.
On Wednesday (Aug. 18), the president announced the forthcoming regulation during a speech at the White House. He has directed the Department of Health and Human Services to come up with new laws that will make employee vaccinations a requirement for nursing homes to receive Medicare and Medicaid. This is the first time that Biden has threatened to deny federal funds to get people vaccinated.
“Now, if you visit, live or work at a nursing home, you should not be at a high risk of contracting COVID from unvaccinated employees,” Biden said during his speech.
“While I’m mindful that my authority at the federal government is limited, I’m going to continue to look for ways to keep people safe and increase vaccination rates.”
Additionally, the president announced that he will direct Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to use “all of his oversight authorities and legal action, if appropriate, against governors who are trying to block and intimidate local school officials and educators” who want their students to wear masks in the classroom.
Biden also revealed that educators whose paychecks have been cut by local and state governments due to implementing mask mandates can receive money from the American Rescue Plan.
The new regulations could go into effect starting as early as next month. According to CNN, the Delta variant now accounts for 99% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. There are about 1.3 million people who are employed in nursing homes across the country, but 40% of those workers are not vaccinated. “We are on a wartime footing here. We are leaning into making sure we are taking the steps that we can to ensure the health and safety of Americans and we will continue to do so,” said Carole Johnson, a senior official on the White House’s COVID-19 response team. “Delta’s not waiting and so, we’re not waiting.”