Area residents are reacting after President Joe Biden announced sweeping new COVID mitigation strategies on Thursday, including ordering that companies with more than 100 employees require those workers to either receive the COVID vaccine or submit to weekly COVID testing.
In addition, the president said that the Department of Labor will order all federal workers and all federally-contracted workers to receive the vaccine, and encouraged states to mandate shots for teachers and school staff amid a surge in cases related to the delta variant.
“We’ve been patient, but patience is wearing thin, and refusal has cost all of us,” the president said.
The White House estimates that the mandates could affect 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated against the virus.
Not surprisingly, Chicago area residents and business owners had mixed reactions to the new orders.
“We need to get vaccinated to get back to normal. I agree with the president 100%,” Julie, a Chicago resident, said.
“You’ve got an option, but now you’re forcing that option to be mandatory,” Marc, another Chicago resident, countered. “No we have no options.”
Biden’s order requires nearly all federal workers, and employees of contractors that do business with the government, to be vaccinated within 75 days.
“If you want to work with the federal government and do business with us, get vaccinated,” he said.
The plan will also require vaccinations for 17 million health care workers at hospitals and other sites that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding.
The Transportation Safety Agency also announced that it will double fines for those individuals who refuse to wear masks on planes or on other forms of transit.
The federal government will partner with Walmart, Amazon, Kroger and other companies to offer rapid at-home testing at cheaper and more accessible rates to help companies adhere to the new mandates.
The news has drawn reaction from more than just residents. The Republican National Committee has said it intends to file suit against the directives, calling them “unconstitutional” and arguing that they are a burden on small businesses.