April 22, 2021

Here's Biden's plan to support paid time off for employees to get vaccinated

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    President Biden on Wednesday during remarks at the White House called on all employers in the United States to give their employees paid time off to get vaccinated, as the United States met the president's goal of administering 200 million Covid-19 vaccine doses within his first 100 days in office.

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    US administers 200M vaccine doses

    Biden during remarks at the White House said the United States has administered 200 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in his first 100 days. "Today, we did it. Today we hit 200 million shots on the 92nd day in office," Biden said. "It's an incredible achievement for the nation."

    According to CDC data, the United States as of Wednesday had administered more than 215 million vaccine doses—with more than 51% of Americans ages 18 and older having received at least one vaccine dose and more than 80% of Americans ages 65 and older having received at least one dose.

    Biden said the first three months of America's vaccine campaign focused on vaccinating high-risk groups, including adults ages 65 and older, but now all Americans ages 16 and older are eligible for vaccine appointments.

    Biden said 90% of Americans now live within five miles of a location where they can receive a vaccine, including more than 40,000 retail pharmacies throughout the United States.

    "To put it simply, if you've been waiting for your turn, wait no longer. Now is the time for everyone over 16 years of age to get vaccinated," Biden said.

    Despite the expansion in vaccine eligibility, the pace of vaccinations in the United States has slightly decelerated in recent days—with the seven-day average of vaccinations declining from 3.38 million last week to 3.02 million a day as of Wednesday, according to a New York Times analysis of CDC data.

    Biden said, "[T]oo many younger Americans may still think they don't need to get vaccinated," but he argued young Americans should receive a Covid-19 vaccine "to keep [themselves] from getting very sick or dying" and "protect" their communities and vulnerable family members.

    Biden calls on business to give employees paid time off to get vaccinated

    Biden also said he has heard many Americans say "they can't afford to take the time off to get vaccinated or lose a day's work because they are feeling slightly under the weather after their shot."

    As a result, Biden said he's "calling on every employer, large and small, in every state to give employees the time off they need—with pay—to get vaccinated, and any time they need—with  pay—to recover if they're feeling under the weather after the shot."

    White House officials said the administration will offer companies with fewer than 500 employees a new tax credit to offset the costs of providing paid time off for vaccinations. According to Roll Call, the eligibility period for the tax credit will run from April 1 through Sept. 30. IRS in a fact sheet said the tax credit "is equal to the sick leave wages paid for COVID-19 related reasons for up to two weeks (80 hours), limited to $511 per day and $5,110 in the aggregate, at 100% of the employee's regular rate of pay."

    The new tax credit is part of what Biden's Covid-19 response team considers the "next big opportunity" to get Americans vaccinated, Roll Call reports.

    "Our research shows that employers are especially effective in reaching the remaining unvaccinated population," an administration official told reporters on a background before Biden's announcement. Specifically, administration officials cited data showing 30% of unvaccinated employees say they're more likely to get vaccinated if their employers offers incentives—and 80% of employers say they want their employers to give them paid time off for any time they need to recover from their vaccinations.

    "No working American should lose a single dollar from their paycheck because they chose to fulfill their patriotic duty of getting vaccinated," Biden said.

    Where America's coronavirus epidemic stands

    Although millions of Americans have been vaccinated, new cases of the coronavirus remain high in the United States—with cases among children steadily increasing.

    According to data compiled by the Times, the United States' average daily number of newly reported coronavirus cases over the past week was 62,956—down by 4% compared with the average from two weeks ago.

    The Times' data showed that, as of Thursday morning, the rates of newly reported coronavirus cases were increasing in Puerto Rico and Guam and 21 states. Those states are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia.

    In the remaining states and U.S. territories, rates are decreasing, according to the Times' analysis.

    According to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association, the weekly number of newly reported coronavirus cases among children increased for the fourth time in five weeks during the week ending on April 15. Specifically, data from the report showed 88,497 new cases of the coronavirus were reported among children during the week spanning from April 9 to April 15—up from 73,192 cases reported during the week spanning from April 1 to April 8. During the week ending on April 15, newly reported cases among children represented 20.6% of all the newly reported coronavirus cases in the United States for the first time during the country's coronavirus epidemic, according to the report.

    Meanwhile, data also shows hospitalizations are rising again. According to the Times' data, 45,565 Americans with Covid-19 were hospitalized on Wednesday—up by 8% compared with the average from two weeks ago.

    According to the Times' data, 720 new deaths were linked to the coronavirus on Tuesday, down 1% compared with the average two weeks ago (Weixel, The Hill, 4/21; Diamond et al., CNN, 4/21; Karni/Stolberg, New York Times, 4/21; Lesniewski, Roll Call, 4/21; Fernandez, Axios, 4/22; Owens, "Vitals," Axios, 4/22; Franki, Medscape, 4/21; New York Times, 4/22).

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