On August 18th, 2021, the White House released a new fact sheet announcing further actions in fighting COVID-19. Drafted by President Joseph Biden’s administration, the resource states that the highly transmittable COVID-19 Delta variant has taken hold. Because of the recent rise in COVID cases, the administration has created new actions to try and get ahead of the virus. Previously, in April, the White House issued a release detailing the formation of a Worker Organizing and Empowerment task force.
Highlights of the Fact Sheet
In brief, there are a couple of items within the fact sheet that are of importance to employers:
- Firstly, the U.S. will officially roll out COVID-19 booster shots the week of September 20. As one of the actions in fighting COVID-19, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a booster plan. However, although scheduled to roll out in late September, the shots are pending Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Also, the administration wants to receive recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Presently, a booster would become available eight months after an individual’s second dose under the plan.
Given that, those individuals who achieved full vaccination status earliest in the vaccine rollout will be eligible. Those groups include health care providers, nursing home residents, and other seniors. At this point, the Biden administration has not stated if employers will receive credits for allowing employees time off to get the booster shot.
- Secondly, the HHS will require COVID-19 vaccinations for long-term care workers. In the fact sheet, the Biden administration announced another of the actions in fighting COVID-19. Basically, the HHS is currently developing new regulations requiring nursing homes to require that all affected workers become fully vaccinated. Consequently, if the workers remain unvaccinated, the nursing home cannot participate in any Medicare or Medicaid programs. As a result of these upcoming regulations, 15,000 nursing home facilities and 1.6 million workers will be affected. Employers at these facilities will need to watch when the HHS releases the new rules.
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