President Joe Biden brought back his stage whisper when he declared war on the 80 million Americans who have yet to get a COVID vaccine.
Biden uses the whisper for emphasis and dramatic affect – a move critics call creepy but advocates say can be an effective communications strategy, causing people to lean in and pay attention.
‘Get vaccinated,’ was his whispered plea at the end of his nearly 30 minutes of remarks.
The whisper is becoming a regular feature in Biden’s remarks: he’s used in a joint address to Congress, in question and answer sessions with reporters, and during other important speeches, such as when he pleaded with businesses to raise wages for workers, whispering ‘pay them more.’
The whisper is usually the most important point Biden tends to make in his speeches and, when he deploys it, his body language changes: he leans into the microphone, pauses for dramatic effect and then whispers his plea.
His entreaty on Thursday came as his administration struggles to return life to normal for Americans, keep the economy on an upward trend, and increase vaccination numbers to counter the Delta variant of COVID, which is causing the case rate to spike.
He spoke directly to the unvaccinated in remarks in the State Dining Room at the White House on Thursday.
‘This is not about freedom or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you, the people you work with, the people you care about, the people you love. My job as president is to protect all Americans,’ he said.
‘We’ve been patient but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. So please do the right thing,’ he said.
Biden’s speech was a marked change from previous remarks on the pandemic. He took a harsh tone with those who have not gotten vaccinated and expressed impatience with their decision not to get a shot in the arm.
And he addressed that crowd directly, in stark language, where he called out those who cast doubt about the safety and efficiency of vaccines.
He also outlined a series of new government mandates that will require shots in the arms for two-thirds of employed Americans. Federal employees who refuse can be fired and companies that don’t comply will face thousands of dollars in fines.
Republicans, including governors, called the orders ‘coercive’ and ‘unconstitutional’ and have vowed to fight back in the courts and with legislation.
Both his tone and his action were some of the strictest measures he’s taken since he became president – a move that comes as hospitalizations are up across the United States as the Delta variant continues to plague the nation.
Biden charged the unvaccinated with ‘overcrowding our hospitals and overrunning emergency rooms intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack or pancreatic cancer.’
The president decried the ‘pandemic politics’ that he said was behind those who had not yet gotten a shot in the arm, calling out public officials who were ‘actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19.’
‘These pandemic politics, as I refer to, are making people sick, causing unvaccinated people to die. We cannot allow these actions to stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal,’ he said.
He charged those who were fighting against COVID-19 mitigation procedures with helping increase the death rate. He didn’t mention any specific official by name by his administration has publicly clashed with the Republican governors of Florida and Texas, Rick DeSantis and Greg Abbott.
President Joe Biden brought back his stage whisper when he declared war on the 80 million Americans who have yet to get a COVID vaccine
‘There are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19,’ Biden said. ‘Instead of encouraging people to get vaccinated and mask up, they’re ordering mobile morgues for the unvaccinated dying from COVID in their communities. This is totally unacceptable.’
‘My message to unvaccinated Americans is this – what more is there to wait for?,’ Biden said. ‘What more to you need to see? We’ve made vaccinations free, safe, and convenient. The vaccine has FDA approval. Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot.’
In his remarks, Biden announced an aggressive new plan to get 100 million employees across the federal government and private sector vaccinated against COVID as the case rate continues to rise due to the Delta variant.
To reach his goal, Biden will use the sweeping power of the federal government, ordering companies to vaccinate workers or face financial penalties.
He’ll have the Labor Department issue an emergency, temporary order to require all businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure every worker is either fully vaccinated or gets tested at least once a week. The order covers over 80 million employees and it will require employers with 100 or more employees to give employees paid time off to get vaccinated.
Any business that violates the new rule will face substantial fines, up to $14,000.
Biden argued some of the biggest companies in the country already required vaccines, including, he noted, Fox News. Many conservative viewers of Fox News also refuse to get the vaccine.
‘Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this – United Airlines, Disney, Tyson food, and even Fox News,’ he said.
He will also require all workers in healthcare settings that receive Medicaid or Medicare reimbursement to get vaccinated, which will apply to 17 million healthcare workers.
He also issued an executive order Thursday night requiring all federal employees and contractors to get vaccinated.
Additionally, the roughly 300,000 educators in headstart programs will be required to be vaccinated.
And the TSA is doubling fines for people who refuse to mask on planes. The new range of penalties, which take effect Friday, September 10, 2021, will be $500-$1000 for first offenders and $1000-$3000 for second offenders, the Department of Homeland Security announced.
Biden denounced those who refuse to wear masks on flights, admonishing them to ‘show some respect.’
‘If you break the rules, be prepared to pay,’ Biden warned in his remarks. ‘And by the way, show some respect. The anger you see on television toward flight attendants and others doing their job is wrong, it’s ugly.’
Biden also called on governors to require vaccinations for all school teachers and staff, a call that will likely not go over well in Southern states like Texas and Florida, where the GOP governors have pushed back against the CDC’s requirement for face masks in schools.
In Florida, Republican Gov. Rick DeSantis has threatened to with hold funding from school districts that require face masks.
To counter moves like that, the Department of Education will make additional funding available to help local school districts backfill salaries and other areas where it has been with held.
‘My plan also takes on elected officials in states that are undermining you and these life saving actions. Right now, local school officials are trying to keep children safe in a pandemic while their governor picks a fight with them and even threatens their salaries or their jobs. Talk about bullying in schools. If they’ll not help us beat the pandemic I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way,’ he vowed.
Biden also announced a ramp up in testing, using the Defense Production Act to accelerate the production of rapid tests, including at home test, and purchase $2 billion worth of rapid tests e and over the counter at home COVID tests for a total of 280 million tests.
Earlier in the day, the administration revealed Biden will require all of the roughly 2.1 million federal workers to be vaccinated as part of a series of his tough new mandates.
There will be limited exceptions but any federal employee who refuses the shot can be fired, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.
Federal employees and contractors will have 75 days to get vaccinated.
The executive order will not include an option of being regularly tested to opt out of the vaccine requirement. The orders will apply to workers in the executive branch but not the congressional or judicial.
‘There will be limited exceptions for legally recognized reasons disability or religious objections,’ Psaki said. Anyone who ‘fails to comply, they will go through the standard HR process, which includes counseling and face disciplinary action,’ she added.
She confirmed that action could include termination of employment.
‘Hopefully it won’t come to that,’ she said.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said any federal employee who doesn’t get vaccinated can be fired
President Joe Biden greets labor union members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers on Labor Day
She said the administration wanted the federal government to serve as an example for other businesses and organizations when it comes to vaccines.
‘Obviously the federal workforce is one of the largest in the country and we would like to be a model to what we think other businesses, organizations should do,’ she noted. ‘The expectation is that if you want to work with federal government or be a contractor, you need to be vaccinated unless you are eligible for one of the exemptions.’
Republican Congressman Rob Wittman of Virginia, who has federal workers in his district, said he objected to the forced vaccines.
‘Although I have personally been vaccinated and regularly encourage those I represent to get vaccinated as well, I fundamentally disagree with forcibly injecting America’s public servants,’ he told DailyMail.com in a statement.
‘Our government was founded to secure the individual liberties of all. We should instead continue educating the public that the COVID-19 vaccines are both safe and effective. Resorting to forced vaccinations, and returning to unnecessary restrictions, only serves to eliminate critically important vaccination incentives and undermine public confidence in the vaccines’ efficacy,’ he added.
The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union of federal workers, said they would bargain over the order.
‘Workers deserve a voice in their working conditions,’ the group said in a statement. ‘Neither of these positions has changed. We expect to bargain over this change prior to implementation, and we urge everyone who is able to get vaccinated as soon as they can do so.’
And the National Federation of Federal Employees, another government workers union, said they didn’t receive advance notice of the executive order.
Psaki dismissed questions about the unions not being consulted. The Biden White House has bragged about its pro-union stance. At a Labor Day event on Wednesday, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said President Biden told him: ‘This is labor’s house.’
‘We have a range of consultation with labor unions, and that has been the case for several weeks and months as we have worked to implement additional steps,’ Psaki said.
‘But our objective here is to continue to save lives.’
The president is putting more pressure on states, businesses and schools to get people vaccinated as the Delta variant causes the case rate to continue to rise in the United States.
But Republican-led states including Texas and Florida have pushed back and are in the process of trying to ban the orders being imposed.
‘What we’ve seen work over the past couple months are mandates, requirements, making it so workers in the federal government or others have to get vaccinated. We’ve seen it work and we’ve seen it become more popular,’ Psaki said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
‘He’s going to speak directly to vaccinated people and their frustrations and he wants them to hear how we’re going to build on what we’ve done to date to get the virus under control,’ she said.
The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs already mandate vaccines for their employees. The military also has issued a vaccine mandate.
There have now been more than 40 million cases of COVID recorded among Americans, which is nearly one-fifth of the global total of cases.
Biden, in his remarks scheduled for 5 p.m. ET time, will address six areas where his administration can push for more Americans to get vaccinated: that includes new plans to get more people vaccinated, enhancing protection for those who already have had shots, keeping schools open, increasing testing and mask-wearing, protecting the economic recovery and improving healthcare.
The president will also urge business to implement strict vaccine requirements. Major corporations like WalMart, McDonalds and Disney require high-level employees, such as managers or white-collar workers, to get vaccinated. Most hospitals and universities require the vaccine. On Thursday the Los Angeles school district also said they would require it.
President Biden and administration officials have repeatedly emphasized the best way for life to return to normal is for people to get vaccinated.
Biden also plans to call for a global summit, to be held during the U.N. General Assembly later this month, to respond to the pandemic and talk about how to get more vaccine supply to the developing world.
About 27 per cent of the eligible U.S. population age 12 and older have not received any COVID vaccine, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile about 75 per cent of Americans have received at least one shot and 53 per cent are fully vaccinated.
In December 2020, after he was elected but before he took office, Biden said he didn’t think COVID vaccines were necessary.
‘I will do everything in my power as president to encourage people to do the right thing and when they do it, demonstrate that it matters,’ he said at the time.
Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week Americans are getting infected with COVID at 10 times the rate needed to end the pandemic.
‘We’re still in pandemic mode, because we have 160,000 new infections a day,’ Fauci told Axios. ‘That’s not even modestly good control.’
‘In a country of our size, you can’t be hanging around and having 100,000 infections a day,’ he continued. ‘You’ve got to get well below 10,000 before you start feeling comfortable.’
About 75 per cent of Americans have received at least one shot and 53 per cent are fully vaccinated
The vaccination rate among Americans has increased since July, which is when the Delta variant caused case rates to spike, but it remains low in Southern states like Florida and Texas.
Biden will also address the divide between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.
‘He also will acknowledge the fact that the 175 million people who are vaccinated out there, many of them are frustrated. They want to go back to normal. Of course they do. That’s going to require moving more unvaccinated people to a vaccinated status. That’s what he’ll talk about,’ Psaki told CNN on Thursday morning.
In his remarks, Biden also will seek to return his focus to the COVID pandemic, resetting the narrative after the difficult evacuation of Americans from Afghanistan and from Democratic in-fighting on Capitol Hill over his $3.5 trillion budget filled with social programs.
The Biden administration has already taken steps to try and stop Republican-led states from rolling back COVID mandates.
Last month, the Education Department announced a civil rights investigations into five states that banned schools from imposing mask mandates, claiming their stance could discriminate against students with disabilities or health problems.
Education chiefs in Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah have been told they are under investigation.
‘It’s simply unacceptable that state leaders are putting politics over the health and education of the students they took an oath to serve,’ said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
‘The department will fight to protect every student’s right to access in-person learning safely.’
NYPD cops are ordered to get vaccinated against Covid, get weekly tests on their own time, or go home without pay
NYPD officers have been told they will be sent home without pay unless they get vaccinated against Covid or provide a weekly negative COVID-19 test which they have taken on their own time.
The new guidelines follow an executive order by Mayor Bill de Blasio about coronavirus protocols for city workers, in response to the surge of the highly contagious Delta variant.
The rules will go into effect on Monday, September 13.
Civilians and paid members of the NYPD who choose to remain unvaccinated will have to get a PCR or a rapid PCR test every seven days on their own time and upload results to an internal contact-tracing system.
Tests have to be done on a weekly basis while officers are off-duty, but the NYPD announced it will soon allow its workforce to get tested at 15 sites across the city at no charge, according to a memo.
At-home antigen tests will not be accepted by the department, under the new police policy.
‘Members of the Service who fail to comply with this directive will not be permitted to work and will be ineligible to receive pay for each day of noncompliance,’ the memo reads.
Unvaccinated NPYD officers have no other choice but to get vaccinated if they don’t want to provide a weekly negative COVID-19 test on their own time or be sent home without pay
The guidelines come after data published late last month revealed that just 47 percent of the department’s workforce — 35,000 uniformed officers and nearly 18,000 civilian members — are fully vaccinated.
That is far lower than the wider New York City population, which has a 61 percent vaccination rate.
The NYPD has one of the worst vaccination rates among police departments in big cities across the country.
Other cities, including Los Angeles and Washington D.C., have more than half of their workforce vaccinated, while Honolulu remains the only city in the U.S. with three-quarters of its police department vaccinated.