TAMPA, Fla. — President Joe Biden is taking executive action to get millions of people vaccinated. He announced that companies with 100 employees or more must require vaccines or face weekly testing, in a national address Thursday.
The mandate comes as many hospitals are struggling with COVID-19 patients in the ICU and a higher surge of the delta variant among children.
The issue for some hospitals, though, is the fear that mandating their staff to get the vaccine could drive some to leave the industry.
“If even a small fraction of our non-vaccinated team members choose to exit the workforce rather than get vaccinated, we’d have even fewer team members to take care of patients, COVID or otherwise," BayCare CEO Tommy Inzina said in an open letter on Thursday.
Biden’s mandate affects more than 100 million people — 80 million in the private sector and nearly 20 million healthcare employees at facilities that get federal medicare or Medicaid.
In addition, the order includes federal contractors but does not give them an option to test out.
President Biden said in his address to the nation that his patience is wearing thin and it’s those that are refusing to get that vaccine that are causing a lot of damage.
“This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and it’s caused by the fact that despite America having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot,” President Joe Biden said.
BayCare is West Central Florida’s largest health care system and has taken heat recently because 44% of their employees aren’t vaccinated.
The mandate is also met by opposition from Republican leaders and some unions saying it is a violation of constitutional rights and threatening legal action.
The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration is developing the rule. Biden said companies that fail to comply could face fines of $14,000 per violation.