Frustrated Biden says nearly 80 million Americans have failed to be vaccinated against COVID-19, signs two executive orders requiring vaccine for federal employees and contractors

Chief White House Correspondent for | + posts

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday evening addressed the nation one more time on the deadly coronavirus pandemic, and urged the 80 million Americans who have remained unvaccinated despite being eligible for the vaccine to get the shot.

“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us,” President Biden said.

The American leader signed two executive orders requiring employees of the federal government’s executive branch and contractors of the federal government to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as new cases and deaths rise daily across the country.

About 1500 people in the United States are now being killed by COVID-19 daily while new daily cases have risen to above 150,000, the highest increase in several months.

President Biden’s two executive orders also expanded vaccine requirements for healthcare workers from nursing home employees who treat patients on Medicare or Medicaid to all healthcare workers in facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding. The White House said the expansion affects about 17 million employees.

Biden also ordered all staffers in Head Start programs, along with the Defense Department and federally operated schools for Native Americans to get the shot.

In addition, private employers with 100 or more employees must require COVID-19 vaccines for workers or weekly negative tests.

Last July, the President gave federal employees the option to either be vaccinated or get tested regularly. The announcement made on Thursday does not have an option of regular COVID-19 testing instead of vaccination.

President Biden’s executive orders and vaccine mandates are part of his administration six-pronged strategy to combat COVID-19, especially the Delta variant which has been fueling recent cases and deaths across America.

“This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. And it’s caused by the fact that despite America having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot,” President Biden said, speaking from the State Dining Room. “And to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19. 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.”

Read full Remarks by President Biden on Fighting the COVID-19 Pandemic

September 9, 2021, State Dining Room 5:02 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening, my fellow Americans.  I want to talk to you about where we are in the battle against COVID-19, the progress we’ve made, and the work we have left to do.

And it starts with understanding this: Even as the Delta variant 19 [sic] has — COVID-19 — has been hitting this country hard, we have the tools to combat the virus, if we can come together as a country and use those tools.
 
If we raise our vaccination rate, protect ourselves and others with masking and expanded testing, and identify people who are infected, we can and we will turn the tide on COVID-19.
 
It will take a lot of hard work, and it’s going to take some time.  Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe, effective, and free.
 
You might be confused about what is true and what is false about COVID-19.  So before I outline the new steps to fight COVID-19 that I’m going to be announcing tonight, let me give you some clear information about where we stand.
 
First, we have cons- — we have made considerable progress
in battling COVID-19.  When I became President, about 2 million Americans were fully vaccinated.  Today, over 175 million Americans have that protection. 
 
Before I took office, we hadn’t ordered enough vaccine for every American.  Just weeks in office, we did.  The week before I took office, on January 20th of this year, over 25,000 Americans died that week from COVID-19.  Last week, that grim weekly toll was down 70 percent.
 
And in the three months before I took office, our economy was faltering, creating just 50,000 jobs a month.  We’re now averaging 700,000 new jobs a month in the past three months.
 
This progress is real.  But while America is in much better shape than it was seven months ago when I took office, I need to tell you a second fact.
 
We’re in a tough stretch, and it could last for a while.  The highly contagious Delta variant that I began to warn America about back in July spread in late summer like it did in other countries before us.
 
While the vaccines provide strong protections for the vaccinated, we read about, we hear about, and we see the stories of hospitalized people, people on their death beds, among the unvaccinated over these past few weeks. 
 
This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.  And it’s caused by the fact that despite America having an unprecedented and successful vaccination program, despite the fact that for almost five months free vaccines have been available in 80,000 different locations, we still have nearly 80 million Americans who have failed to get the shot. 
 
And to make matters worse, there are elected officials actively working to undermine the fight against COVID-19.  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.
 
Third, if you wonder how all this adds up, here’s the math:  The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing.  Nearly three quarters of the eligible have gotten at least one shot, but one quarter has not gotten any.  That’s nearly 80 million Americans not vaccinated.  And in a country as large as ours, that’s 25 percent minority.  That 25 percent can cause a lot of damage — and they are.
 
The unvaccinated overcrowd our hospitals, are overrunning the emergency rooms and intensive care units, leaving no room for someone with a heart attack, or pancreitis [pancreatitis], or cancer.
 
And fourth, I want to emphasize that the vaccines provide very strong protection from severe illness from COVID-19.  I know there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation.  But the world’s leading scientists confirm that if you are fully vaccinated, your risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is very low. 
 
In fact, based on available data from the summer, only one of out of every 160,000 fully vaccinated Americans was hospitalized for COVID per day.
 
These are the facts. 
 
So here’s where we stand: The path ahead, even with the Delta variant, is not nearly as bad as last winter.  But what makes it incredibly more frustrating is that we have the tools to combat COVID-19, and a distinct minority of Americans –supported by a distinct minority of elected officials — are keeping us from turning the corner.  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. 
 
As your President, I’m announcing tonight a new plan to require more Americans to be vaccinated, to combat those blocking public health. 
 
My plan also increases testing, protects our economy, and will make our kids safer in schools.  It consists of six broad areas of action and many specific measures in each that — and each of those actions that you can read more about at WhiteHouse.gov.  WhiteHouse.gov.
 
The measures — these are going to take time to have full impact.  But if we implement them, I believe and the scientists indicate, that in the months ahead we can reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans, decrease hospitalizations and deaths, and allow our children to go to school safely and keep our economy strong by keeping businesses open.
 
First, we must increase vaccinations among the unvaccinated with new vaccination requirements.  Of the nearly 80 million eligible Americans who have not gotten vaccinated, many said they were waiting for approval from the Food and Drug Administration — the FDA.  Well, last month, the FDA granted that approval.
 
So, the time for waiting is over.  This summer, we made progress through the combination of vaccine requirements and incentives, as well as the FDA approval.  Four million more people got their first shot in August than they did in July. 
 
But we need to do more.  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. 
 
So, tonight, I’m announcing that the Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule to require all employers with 100 or more employees, that together employ over 80 million workers, to ensure their workforces are fully vaccinated or show a negative test at least once a week.
 
Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this: United Airlines, Disney, Tysons Food, and even Fox News.
 
The bottom line: We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers.  We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across America.
 
My plan will extend the vaccination requirements that I previously issued in the healthcare field.  Already, I’ve announced, we’ll be requiring vaccinations that all nursing home workers who treat patients on Medicare and Medicaid, because I have that federal authority.
 
Tonight, I’m using that same authority to expand that to cover those who work in hospitals, home healthcare facilities, or other medical facilities –- a total of 17 million healthcare workers.
 
If you’re seeking care at a health facility, you should be able to know that the people treating you are vaccinated.  Simple.  Straightforward.  Period.
 
Next, I will sign an executive order that will now require all executive branch federal employees to be vaccinated — all.  And I’ve signed another executive order that will require federal contractors to do the same.
 
If you want to work with the federal government and do business with us, get vaccinated.  If you want to do business with the federal government, vaccinate your workforce. 
 
And tonight, I’m removing one of the last remaining obstacles that make it difficult for you to get vaccinated.
 
The Department of Labor will require employers with 100 or more workers to give those workers paid time off to get vaccinated.  No one should lose pay in order to get vaccinated or take a loved one to get vaccinated.
 
Today, in total, the vaccine requirements in my plan will affect about 100 million Americans –- two thirds of all workers. 
 
And for other sectors, I issue this appeal: To those of you running large entertainment venues — from sports arenas to concert venues to movie theaters — please require folks to get vaccinated or show a negative test as a condition of entry.
 
And to the nation’s family physicians, pediatricians, GPs — general practitioners –- you’re the most trusted medical voice to your patients.  You may be the one person who can get someone to change their mind about being vaccinated. 
 
Tonight, I’m asking each of you to reach out to your unvaccinated patients over the next two weeks and make a personal appeal to them to get the shot.  America needs your personal involvement in this critical effort.
 
And my message to unvaccinated Americans is this: What more is there to wait for?  What more do 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. 
 
We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin.  And your refusal has cost all of us.  So, please, do the right thing.  But just don’t take it from me; listen to the voices of unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breaths, saying, “If only I had gotten vaccinated.”  “If only.”
 
It’s a tragedy.  Please don’t let it become yours.
 
The second piece of my plan is continuing to protect the vaccinated.
 
For the vast majority of you who have gotten vaccinated, I understand your anger at those who haven’t gotten vaccinated.  I understand the anxiety about getting a “breakthrough” case.
 
But as the science makes clear, if you’re fully vaccinated, you’re highly protected from severe illness, even if you get COVID-19.  
 
In fact, recent data indicates there is only one confirmed positive case per 5,000 fully vaccinated Americans per day.
 
You’re as safe as possible, and we’re doing everything we can to keep it that way — keep it that way, keep you safe.
 
That’s where boosters come in — the shots that give you even more protection than after your second shot.
 
Now, I know there’s been some confusion about boosters.  So, let me be clear: Last month, our top government doctors announced an initial plan for booster shots for vaccinated Americans.  They believe that a booster is likely to provide the highest level of protection yet.
 
Of course, the decision of which booster shots to give, when to start them, and who will give them, will be left completely to the scientists at the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control.
 
But while we wait, we’ve done our part.  We’ve bought enough boosters — enough booster shots — and the distribution system is ready to administer them.
 
As soon as they are authorized, those eligible will be able to get a booster right away in tens of thousands of site across the — sites across the country for most Americans, at your nearby drug store, and for free. 
 
The third piece of my plan is keeping — and maybe the most important — is keeping our children safe and our schools open.  For any parent, it doesn’t matter how low the risk of any illness or accident is when it comes to your child or grandchild.  Trust me, I know. 
 
So, let me speak to you directly.  Let me speak to you directly to help ease some of your worries.
 
It comes down to two separate categories: children ages 12 and older who are eligible for a vaccine now, and children ages 11 and under who are not are yet eligible.
 
The safest thing for your child 12 and older is to get them vaccinated.  They get vaccinated for a lot of things.  That’s it.  Get them vaccinated.
 
As with adults, almost all the serious COVID-19 cases we’re seeing among adolescents are in unvaccinated 12- to 17-year-olds — an age group that lags behind in vaccination rates.
 
So, parents, please get your teenager vaccinated.
 
What about children under the age of 12 who can’t get vaccinated yet?  Well, the best way for a parent to protect their child under the age of 12 starts at home.  Every parent, every teen sibling, every caregiver around them should be vaccinated.  
 
Children have four times higher chance of getting hospitalized if they live in a state with low vaccination rates rather than the states with high vaccination rates. 
 
Now, if you’re a parent of a young child, you’re wondering when will it be — when will it be — the vaccine available for them.  I strongly support an independent scientific review for vaccine uses for children under 12.  We can’t take shortcuts with that scientific work. 
 
But I’ve made it clear I will do everything within my power to support the FDA with any resource it needs to continue to do this as safely and as quickly as possible, and our nation’s top doctors are committed to keeping the public at large updated on the process so parents can plan.
 
Now to the schools.  We know that if schools follow the science and implement the safety measures — like testing, masking, adequate ventilation systems that we provided the money for, social distancing, and vaccinations — then children can be safe from COVID-19 in schools.
 
Today, about 90 percent of school staff and teachers are vaccinated.  We should get that to 100 percent.  My administration has already acquired teachers at the schools run by the Defense Department — because I have the authority as President in the federal system — the Defense Department and the Interior Department — to get vaccinated.  That’s authority I possess. 
 
Tonight, I’m announcing that we’ll require all of nearly 300,000 educators in the federal paid program, Head Start program, must be vaccinated as well to protect your youngest — our youngest — most precious Americans and give parents the comfort.
 
And tonight, I’m calling on all governors to require vaccination for all teachers and staff.  Some already have done so, but we need more to step up. 
 
Vaccination requirements in schools are nothing new.  They work.  They’re overwhelmingly supported by educators and their unions.  And to all school officials trying to do the right thing by our children: I’ll always be on your side. 
 
Let me be blunt.  My plan also takes on elected officials and states that are undermining you and these lifesaving 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 — if these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as President to get them out of the way. 
 
The Department of Education has already begun to take legal action against states undermining protection that local school officials have ordered.  Any teacher or school official whose pay is withheld for doing the right thing, we will have that pay restored by the federal government 100 percent.  I promise you I will have your back. 
 
The fourth piece of my plan is increasing testing and masking.  From the start, America has failed to do enough COVID-19 testing.  In order to better detect and control the Delta variant, I’m taking steps tonight to make testing more available, more affordable, and more convenient.  I’ll use the Defense Production Act to increase production of rapid tests, including those that you can use at home. 
 
While that production is ramping up, my administration has worked with top retailers, like Walmart, Amazon, and Kroger’s, and tonight we’re announcing that, no later than next week, each of these outlets will start to sell at-home rapid test kits at cost for the next three months.  This is an immediate price reduction for at-home test kits for up to 35 percent reduction.
 
We’ll also expand — expand free testing at 10,000 pharmacies around the country.  And we’ll commit — we’re committing $2 billion to purchase nearly 300 million rapid tests for distribution to community health centers, food banks, schools, so that every American, no matter their income, can access free and convenient tests.  This is important to everyone, particularly for a parent or a child — with a child not old enough to be vaccinated.  You’ll be able to test them at home and test those around them.
 
In addition to testing, we know masking helps stop the spread of COVID-19.  That’s why when I came into office, I required masks for all federal buildings and on federal lands, on airlines, and other modes of transportation.  
 
Today — tonight, I’m announcing that the Transportation Safety Administration — the TSA — will double the fines on travelers that refuse to mask.  If you break the rules, be prepared to pay. 
 
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. 
 
The fifth piece of my plan is protecting our economic recovery.  Because of our vaccination program and the American Rescue Plan, which we passed early in my administration, we’ve had record job creation for a new administration, economic growth unmatched in 40 years.  We cannot let unvaccinated do this progress — undo it, turn it back. 
 
So tonight, I’m announcing additional steps to strengthen our economic recovery.  We’ll be expanding COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs.  That’s a program that’s going to allow small businesses to borrow up to $2 million from the current $500,000 to keep going if COVID-19 impacts on their sales. 
 
These low-interest, long-term loans require no repayment for two years and be can used to hire and retain workers, purchase inventory, or even pay down higher cost debt racked up since the pandemic began.  I’ll also be taking additional steps to help small businesses stay afloat during the pandemic. 
 
Sixth, we’re going to continue to improve the care of those who do get COVID-19.  In early July, I announced the deployment of surge response teams.  These are teams comprised of experts from the Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC, the Defense Department, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency — FEMA — to areas in the country that need help to stem the spread of COVID-19. 
 
Since then, the federal government has deployed nearly 1,000 staff, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, into 18 states.  Today, I’m announcing that the Defense Department will double the number of military health teams that they’ll deploy to help their fellow Americans in hospitals around the country. 
 
Additionally, we’re increasing the availability of new medicines recommended by real doctors, not conspir- — conspiracy theorists.  The monoclonal antibody treatments have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization by up to 70 percent for unvaccinated people at risk of developing sefe- — severe disease. 
 
We’ve already distributed 1.4 million courses of these treatments to save lives and reduce the strain on hospitals.  Tonight, I’m announcing we will increase the average pace of shipment across the country of free monoclonal antibody treatments by another 50 percent.
 
Before I close, let me say this: Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by this virus.  And as we continue to battle COVID-19, we will ensure that equity continues to be at the center of our response.  We’ll ensure that everyone is reached.  My first responsibility as President is to protect the American people and make sure we have enough vaccine for every American, including enough boosters for every American who’s approved to get one. 
 
We also know this virus transcends borders.  That’s why, even as we execute this plan at home, we need to continue fighting the virus overseas, continue to be the arsenal of vaccines. 
 
We’re proud to have donated nearly 140 million vaccines over 90 countries, more than all other countries combined, including Europe, China, and Russia combined.  That’s American leadership on a global stage, and that’s just the beginning.
 
We’ve also now started to ship another 500 million COVID vaccines — Pfizer vaccines — purchased to donate to 100 lower-income countries in need of vaccines.  And I’ll be announcing additional steps to help the rest of the world later this month.
 
As I recently released the key parts of my pandemic preparedness plan so that America isn’t caught flat-footed when a new pandemic comes again — as it will — next month, I’m also going to release the plan in greater detail.
 
So let me close with this: We have so- — we’ve made so much progress during the past seven months of this pandemic.  The recent increases in vaccinations in August already are having an impact in some states where case counts are dropping in recent days.  Even so, we remain at a critical moment, a critical time.  We have the tools.  Now we just have to finish the job with truth, with science, with confidence, and together as one nation.
 
Look, we’re the United States of America.  There’s nothing — not a single thing — we’re unable to do if we do it together.  So let’s stay together.
 
God bless you all and all those who continue to serve on the frontlines of this pandemic.  And may God protect our troops.
 
Get vaccinated.
 
5:28 P.M. EDT

Read President Biden’s Executive Order on Requiring Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees

REQUIRING CORONAVIRUS DISEASE 2019 VACCINATION FOR FEDERAL EMPLOYEES

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including sections 3301, 3302, and 7301 of title 5, United States Code, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  It is the policy of my Administration to halt the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), including the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, by relying on the best available data and science-based public health measures.  The Delta variant, currently the predominant variant of the virus in the United States, is highly contagious and has led to a rapid rise in cases and hospitalizations.  The nationwide public health emergency, first declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services on January 31, 2020, remains in effect, as does the National Emergency Concerning the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) declared pursuant to the National Emergencies Act in Proclamation 9994 of March 13, 2020 (Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak).  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the Department of Health and Human Services has determined that the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent infection by the Delta variant or other variants is to be vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in the United States.  They protect people from getting infected and severely ill, and they significantly reduce the likelihood of hospitalization and death.  As of the date of this order, one of the COVID-19 vaccines, the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine, also known as Comirnaty, has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and two others, the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and the Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine, have been authorized by the FDA for emergency use.  The FDA has determined that all three vaccines meet its rigorous standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality.

The health and safety of the Federal workforce, and the health and safety of members of the public with whom they interact, are foundational to the efficiency of the civil service.  I have determined that ensuring the health and safety of the Federal workforce and the efficiency of the civil service requires immediate action to protect the Federal workforce and individuals interacting with the Federal workforce.  It is essential that Federal employees take all available steps to protect themselves and avoid spreading COVID-19 to their co-workers and members of the public.  The CDC has found that the best way to do so is to be vaccinated.

The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force), established by Executive Order 13991 of January 20, 2021 (Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing), has issued important guidance to protect the Federal workforce and individuals interacting with the Federal workforce.  Agencies have also taken important actions, including in some cases requiring COVID-19 vaccination for members of their workforce.  

Accordingly, building on these actions, and in light of the public health guidance regarding the most effective and necessary defenses against COVID-19, I have determined that to promote the health and safety of the Federal workforce and the efficiency of the civil service, it is necessary to require COVID-19 vaccination for all Federal employees, subject to such exceptions as required by law.

Sec. 2.  Mandatory Coronavirus Disease 2019 Vaccination for Federal Employees.  Each agency shall implement, to the extent consistent with applicable law, a program to require COVID-19 vaccination for all of its Federal employees, with exceptions only as required by law.  The Task Force shall issue guidance within 7 days of the date of this order on agency implementation of this requirement for all agencies covered by this order.

Sec. 3.  Definitions.  For the purposes of this order:
     (a)  The term “agency” means an Executive agency as defined in 5 U.S.C. 105 (excluding the Government Accountability Office). 
     (b)  The term “employee” means an employee as defined in 5 U.S.C. 2105 (including an employee paid from nonappropriated funds as referenced in 5 U.S.C. 2105(c)). 

Sec. 4.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
          (ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
     (b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
     (c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
     (d)  If any provision of this order, or the application of any provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this order and the application of any of its other provisions to any other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.
                              JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR. 
THE WHITE HOUSE,
September 9

Read President Biden’s Executive Order on Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors

ENSURING ADEQUATE COVID SAFETY PROTOCOLS FOR FEDERAL CONTRACTORS

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, 40 U.S.C. 101 et seq., and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and in order to promote economy and efficiency in procurement by contracting with sources that provide adequate COVID-19 safeguards for their workforce, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  This order promotes economy and efficiency in Federal procurement by ensuring that the parties that contract with the Federal Government provide adequate COVID-19 safeguards to their workers performing on or in connection with a Federal Government contract or contract-like instrument as described in section 5(a) of this order.  These safeguards will decrease the spread of COVID-19, which will decrease worker absence, reduce labor costs, and improve the efficiency of contractors and subcontractors at sites where they are performing work for the Federal Government.  Accordingly, ensuring that Federal contractors and subcontractors are adequately protected from COVID-19 will bolster economy and efficiency in Federal procurement.Sec. 2.  Providing for Adequate COVID-19 Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors.  (a)  Executive departments and agencies, including independent establishments subject to the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, 40 U.S.C. 102(4)(A) (agencies), shall, to the extent permitted by law, ensure that contracts and contract-like instruments (as described in section 5(a) of this order) include a clause that the contractor and any subcontractors (at any tier) shall incorporate into lower-tier subcontracts.  This clause shall specify that the contractor or subcontractor shall, for the duration of the contract, comply with all guidance for contractor or subcontractor workplace locations published by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force Guidance or Guidance), provided that the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Director) approves the Task Force Guidance and determines that the Guidance, if adhered to by contractors or subcontractors, will promote economy and efficiency in Federal contracting.  This clause shall apply to any workplace locations (as specified by the Task Force Guidance) in which an individual is working on or in connection with a Federal Government contract or contract-like instrument (as described in section 5(a) of this order).
     (b)  By September 24, 2021, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force) shall, as part of its issuance of Task Force Guidance, provide definitions of relevant terms for contractors and subcontractors, explanations of protocols required of contractors and subcontractors to comply with workplace safety guidance, and any exceptions to Task Force Guidance that apply to contractor and subcontractor workplace locations and individuals in those locations working on or in connection with a Federal Government contract or contract-like instrument (as described in section 5(a) of this order).
     (c)  Prior to the Task Force publishing new Guidance related to COVID-19 for contractor or subcontractor workplace locations, including the Guidance developed pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the Director shall, as an exercise of the delegation of my authority under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, see 3 U.S.C. 301, determine whether such Guidance will promote economy and efficiency in Federal contracting if adhered to by Government contractors and subcontractors.  Upon an affirmative determination by the Director, the Director’s approval of the Guidance, and subsequent issuance of such Guidance by the Task Force, contractors and subcontractors working on or in connection with a Federal Government contract or contract-like instrument (as described in section 5(a) of this order), shall adhere to the requirements of the newly published Guidance, in accordance with the clause described in subsection (a) of this section.  The Director shall publish such determination in the Federal Register.     
     (d)  Nothing in this order shall excuse noncompliance with any applicable State law or municipal ordinance establishing more protective safety protocols than those established under this order or with any more protective Federal law, regulation, or agency instructions for contractor or subcontractor employees working at a Federal building or a federally controlled workplace.
     (e)  For purposes of this order, the term “contract or contract-like instrument” shall have the meaning set forth in the Department of Labor’s proposed rule, “Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors, ” 86 Fed. Reg. 38816, 38887 (July 22, 2021).  If the Department of Labor issues a final rule relating to that proposed rule, that term shall have the meaning set forth in that final rule.Sec. 3.  Regulations and Implementation.  (a)  The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, to the extent permitted by law, shall amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation to provide for inclusion in Federal procurement solicitations and contracts subject to this order the clause described in section 2(a) of this order, and shall, by October 8, 2021, take initial steps to implement appropriate policy direction to acquisition offices for use of the clause by recommending that agencies exercise their authority under subpart 1.4 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation.
     (b)  By October 8, 2021, agencies shall take steps, to the extent permitted by law, to exercise any applicable authority to ensure that contracts and contract-like instruments as described in section 5(a) of this order that are not subject to the Federal Acquisition Regulation and that are entered into on or after October 15, 2021, consistent with the effective date of such agency action, include the clause described in section 2(a) of this order.Sec. 4.  Severability.  If any provision of this order, or the application of any provision of this order to any person or circumstance, is held to be invalid, the remainder of this order and its application to any other person or circumstance shall not be affected thereby.Sec. 5.  Applicability.  (a)  This order shall apply to any new contract; new contract-like instrument; new solicitation for a contract or contract-like instrument; extension or renewal of an existing contract or contract-like instrument; and exercise of an option on an existing contract or contract-like instrument, if:          (i)    it is a procurement contract or contract-like instrument for services, construction, or a leasehold interest in real property;
          (ii)   it is a contract or contract-like instrument for services covered by the Service Contract Act, 41 U.S.C. 6701 et seq.;
          (iii)  it is a contract or contract-like instrument for concessions, including any concessions contract excluded by Department of Labor regulations at 29 C.F.R. 4.133(b); or
          (iv)   it is a contract or contract-like instrument entered into with the Federal Government in connection with Federal property or lands and related to offering services for Federal employees, their dependents, or the general public;
     (b)  This order shall not apply to:
          (i)    grants;
          (ii)   contracts, contract-like instruments, or agreements with Indian Tribes under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (Public Law 93-638), as amended;
          (iii)  contracts or subcontracts whose value is equal to or less than the simplified acquisition threshold, as that term is defined in section 2.101 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation;
          (iv)   employees who perform work outside the United States or its outlying areas, as those terms are defined in section 2.101 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation; or
          (v)    subcontracts solely for the provision of products.Sec. 6.  Effective Date.  (a)  Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, this order is effective immediately and shall apply to new contracts; new contract-like instruments; new solicitations for contracts or contract-like instruments; extensions or renewals of existing contracts or contract-like instruments; and exercises of options on existing contracts or contract-like instruments, as described in section 5(a) of this order, where the relevant contract or contract-like instrument will be entered into, the relevant contract or contract-like instrument will be extended or renewed, or the relevant option will be exercised, on or after:          (i)   October 15, 2021, consistent with the effective date for the action taken by the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council pursuant to section 3(a) of this order; or
          (ii)  for contracts and contract-like instruments that are not subject to the Federal Acquisition Regulation and where an agency action is taken pursuant to section 3(b) of this order, October 15, 2021, consistent with the effective date for such action.     (b)  As an exception to subsection (a) of this section, where agencies have issued a solicitation before the effective date for the relevant action taken pursuant to section 3 of this order and entered into a new contract or contract-like instrument resulting from such solicitation within 30 days of such effective date, such agencies are strongly encouraged to ensure that the safety protocols specified in section 2 of this order are applied in the new contract or contract-like instrument.  But if that contract or contract-like instrument term is subsequently extended or renewed, or an option is subsequently exercised under that contract or contract-like instrument, the safety protocols specified in section 2 of this order shall apply to that extension, renewal, or option.
     (c)  For all existing contracts and contract-like instruments, solicitations issued between the date of this order and the effective dates set forth in this section, and contracts and contract-like instruments entered into between the date of this order and the effective dates set forth in this section, agencies are strongly encouraged, to the extent permitted by law, to ensure that the safety protocols required under those contracts and contract-like instruments are consistent with the requirements specified in section 2 of this order.Sec. 7.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:          (i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
          (ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.     (b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
     (c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.                             JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.THE WHITE HOUSE,   September 9, 2021.

Simon Ateba

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

Read Also

×
You have free article(s) remaining. Subscribe for unlimited access.
error: Alert: Share This Content !!
Share
Reddit
Tweet
Pin
Share