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White House doesn’t deny it is considering withholding funds to force vaccinations


The Biden administration did not deny reports on Thursday that it is considering withholding federal funds from institutions in an effort to boost vaccination rates as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise throughout the country.

Speaking to Fox News, an unnamed White House official said: ‘As we always are, the administration is discussing a host of different measures we can continue to boost vaccinations across the country.

‘Any reported ideas under consideration are in early conversations and pre-decisional,’ the official said in a statement. ‘There are no imminent policy decisions as to preview at this time.’

The comments come just a few hours after the Washington Post reported that the administration is discussing the possibility of withholding funds from long-term care facilities, cruise ships and universities, hoping to encourage some of the 90 million unvaccinated Americans to get the jab.

One aspect of the plan, the Post reports, would entail restricting access to federal funds such as Medicare to these nursing homes and long-term care facilities until their employees get vaccinated. 

President Joe Biden is reportedly considering withholding federal funds from institutions in an effort to boost vaccination rates across the country

Approximately 90 million Americans are eligible for the COVID vaccine (pictured) but have so far refused to take it

Approximately 90 million Americans are eligible for the COVID vaccine (pictured) but have so far refused to take it

Skeptics of the plan claim it could trigger backlash in heavily Republican areas, where vaccine rates are the lowest, and further agitate conservatives who are already upset by the Biden administration’s COVID mandates.

They note that even if Biden did withhold federal funds to force people to get vaccinated, it would still take them five or six weeks to reach immune status, during which time, COVID cases continue to rise. 

Others, however, have been pushing for the White House to take a more forceful approach to encourage people to get vaccinated.

‘If you look through history, there are presidents who – even in the absence of legal authority – influence people,’ Ezekiel Emanuel, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, who organized a joint statement between nearly 60 medical groups urging every health facility to require its employees get vaccinated, told the Post.

‘I think wisely using the federal spending power is absolutely right,” Lawrence Gostin, who directs Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, added.

‘The federal government can’t directly mandate a vaccine,’ he said. ‘It can use its spending power to say to a state, “You mandate vaccinations. And if you don’t, we’ll withhold certain federal dollars.”‘

Gostin said he has warned the White House, however, to use its power judiciously, not by ‘bludgeoning the private sector;’ but rather by ‘starting with high-risk settings with an absolute ethical obligation and legal obligation to keep your workers and your clients safe.’

People lined up to get the COVID vaccine in Miami Beach, Florida on Wednesday as the Delta variant continues to spread through the region

People lined up to get the COVID vaccine in Miami Beach, Florida on Wednesday as the Delta variant continues to spread through the region

About a quarter of those who are unvaccinated report that they plan to get it by the end of the year, according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, with three percent saying they would only get the vaccine if they are required to do so for school, work or other activities

About a quarter of those who are unvaccinated report that they plan to get it by the end of the year, according to a survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, with three percent saying they would only get the vaccine if they are required to do so for school, work or other activities

The number of people getting COVID shots has been declining in recent weeks, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control, even as the number of COVID cases continues to rise amid the spread of the highly-transmissible Delta variant.

As of Thursday, 58.2 percent of the total population has received at least one vaccine, the CDC reports, while 49.9 percent are fully vaccinated. 

About a quarter of those who are unvaccinated have reported they plan to get the vaccine by the end of the year, and nearly 3 percent of unvaccinated Americans said they would get vaccinated only if required to do so for school, work or other activities, according to a July survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

That is down from June, when 6 percent of unvaccinated Americans said they would only get the shot if they were required to.

Meanwhile, the COVID rate is increasing amid the spread of the Delta variant.

There was a 64.1 percent increase in daily new cases last week when compared to the week before, according to the CDC, with a total of 34.7 million new COVID cases reported as of July 28. 

 

Cities and states throughout the country have now reinstated their COVID mandates to address the growing spread

Ten California counties have so far reinstated mask mandates. Louisiana has also reinstated indoor mask mandates in response to surging cases and hospitalizations. 

In late July, the CDC even updated its guidance to urge fully vaccinated Americans to wear masks if they live in COVID hotspots. 

And in places like California and New York City, employees are being asked to provide proof that they have been vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.

A proof of vaccination will also soon be required at certain restaurants and gyms in the Big Apple. 

Among all the turmoil, the president’s approval rating has plunged by 10 percent in a a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll released Monday and first obtained by The Hill.

It showed the president’s approval dropped to 52 percent, down from 62 percent in June, as more Americans are worried about the coronavirus pandemic. 

A 36 percent majority of respondents in the poll say it’s the top issue facing the US. 

Just 46 percent of people believe the US is on the right track in its COVID fight as of July. In June the number was 53 percent, the highest it’s been.

The number of people who think it’s on the wrong track rose to 47 percent from 39 percent in June.

 Now, the president is also said to be in talks to require nearly all foreign visitors to the United States to be fully vaccinated. 

The Biden administration has interagency working groups working ‘in order to have a new system ready for when we can reopen travel,’ an official told Reuters on August 4, adding it would include ‘a phased approach that over time will mean, with limited exceptions, that foreign nationals traveling to the United States [from all countries] need to be fully vaccinated.’



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