President Joe Biden spoke to the nation on Thursday, addressing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and unveiling the new direction being sought by the federal government in combating the spread of the Delta variant.
If there was a key takeaway from the President's speech, it was the administration's frustration with ongoing efforts by Republican lawmakers to undermine containment efforts and the refusal of many Americans to cooperate with vaccine and mask mandates.
"We've been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing. But just don't take it from me; listen to the voices of unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breaths, saying, "If only I had gotten vaccinated," the President said. "If only."
The President noted that the ongoing Delta variant surge is mainly driven by infections among unvaccinated individuals, noting that some 80 million Americans have not received the first shot. Hospitals in many regions of the country are reporting ICUs near or at capacity due to unvaccinated coronavirus patients (a matter only complicated further by the recent string of weather-related crises across the country).
To help combat the ongoing spread, the President announced a new response plan requiring vaccinations at businesses with 100 or more employees, as well as identical requirements for all federally employed workers. Any individuals covered by the regulation that are not vaccinated must receive weekly tests.
The President didn't mince words when addressing the plan's intent, noting that the forthcoming regulation was a direct response to "a distinct minority" of lawmakers and others who have delayed or refused to get vaccinated.
"The bottom line: We're going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers. We're going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America," President Biden said.
If I were one to gamble, I'd wager that the President's regulations will likely face a slate of lawsuits in the coming months, given the response by some conservative lawmakers to his speech. While attempts to strip emergency powers and curtail coronavirus masking/vaccination mandates have succeeded in lower courts (with appeals pending in a few cases), any efforts to stop President Biden would more than likely end up before the Supreme Court, an often-protracted process.