President Joe Biden has unveiled a new “action plan” plan to confront the COVID-19 surge that’s being driven by the spread of the delta variant. It mandates vaccines for federal workers and contractors and certain health care workers, requires employees at companies with 100 or more workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly, lays the groundwork for a booster shot campaign and recommends that large venues require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. The plan also makes recommendations on keeping schools open.
Key parts of the plan:
— All federal workers and contractors must get vaccinated, with limited exceptions.
— Federal agencies will lay the groundwork for a smooth booster shot campaign, starting the week of Sep. 20 — if the Food and Drug Administration authorizes or approves the boosters.
MASKS AND TESTING
— Mask requirements will continue for interstate travel and in federal buildings. The Transportation Security Administration will double fines on airline, train and other travelers who refuse to mask up.
— The number of pharmacies offering free testing will be expanded to 10,000.
— Walmart, Amazon and Kroger will offer at-home COVID tests at cost, about a 35% savings for consumers.
— The Pentagon will double military medical teams helping local hospitals overwhelmed with virus patients.