President Joe Biden on Thursday defended his COVID-19 vaccine mandates, as he said Americans who haven’t gotten shots put the U.S. economy in jeopardy. In a speech during a trip that included a meeting with the chief executive of United Airlines
Biden said the U.S. is heading in the right direction in its handling of the pandemic.
“We’ve made real progress across the board,” he said, citing declining cases. But he added that the unvaccinated “put our economy at risk” and urged more employers to require vaccines for workers. Jeff Zients, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, called United “an early mover” on vaccine requirements in a briefing with reporters on Wednesday. Nearly all of the airline’s U.S. employees have been vaccinated. Last month, Biden announced steps including a mandate requiring businesses with 100 or more workers to ensure their employees are vaccinated or show a negative test weekly or more frequently. The rule is still being finalized by the Department of Labor. Biden spoke a day before the government is due to release employment data for September. With delta-variant cases fading, there is a good chance of a big rebound in hiring, as MarketWatch reports. Read: The U.S. likely added 500,000 new jobs in September. Here’s what Wall Street is watching Some Republicans have pushed back on mandates, meanwhile, with governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis slamming what he called Biden’s overreach. “It’s really about using government power, control to mandate, much more than it is about the underlying medical issues that are involved,” DeSantis, a potential GOP presidential contender, said in September. In addition to speaking about vaccine requirements, Biden was also scheduled to visit a construction site in Elk Grove Village, according to the White House.