By Trevor Hunnicutt
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -US President Joe Biden was due to meet with business executives and CEOs on Wednesday as he pressured companies to demand that workers be vaccinated amid a rise in COVID -19 infections among those not yet vaccinated.
Biden last week announced vaccination mandates for all federal employees and larger companies as the number of infections in the U.S. continued to rise, hospital beds filled up and face mask requirements returned, all the while some Republican-led states defied recommendations from health officials.
Opinion polls have shown that a majority of Americans support some form of mandate.
The US president told reporters on Tuesday that he had generally seen “positive support for mandates”, although he admitted that there would always be a small percentage of people who would refuse to get a shot.
The White House hopes Wednesday’s meeting will serve “as a rallying cry for more businesses across the country to step up and implement similar measures,” an official said.
The meeting involves business leaders and executives who have introduced vaccine requirements or are working to implement the new rules, the White House official said.
The policies announced last week require most federal workers to receive COVID-19 vaccinations and pressure large employers to have workers inoculated or tested weekly. The new measures would apply to about two-thirds of all employees in the United States, those working for companies with more than 100 workers.
Participants in the meeting include Walt’s executives Disney (NYSE 🙂 Co, Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ 🙂 and Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc, Kaiser Permanente, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Molly Moon’s homemade ice cream.
Josh Bolten, chairman of Business Roundtable, which represents employers of 20 million workers, will also attend, the White House said. Business Roundtable has welcomed Biden’s announcement of mandates.
The rapidly spreading Delta variant has unleashed a new wave of illness and death, posing increased risk not only to the country but to a president who ran on promises to gain control of the pandemic.
Some small employers have expressed frustration over the mandate. Major employers such as US automakers General Motors Co. (NYSE 🙂 and Ford Motor (NYSE 🙂 Co. and rare earth producer MP Materials Corp. said they are urging employees to get the vaccine, but they were silent about Biden’s announcement.
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