The Biden administration is telling nursing homes to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for all staff or it will pull federal funding.
In a news conference on Wednesday, the President announced he is directing the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) s to draw up vaccine requirements for nursing home workers.
Any facility that does not enforced the mandate will not be eligible for funding through Medicare or Medicaid.
The directive comes as the federal government exhausts the tools at its disposal to get more Americans vaccinated and cases in nursing homes rise – especially in facilities with lower vaccination rates among staff.
President Joe Biden is requiring all nursing homes that receive federal funds to require staff to get vaccinated. Pictured: Biden speaks about the COVID-19 response and the vaccination program in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday
Nursing homes have been hotspots for COVID-19 deaths, with 133,000 deaths being recorded in the facilities since the pandemic began in March 2020
‘Vaccination rates among nursing home staff significantly trailed the rest of the country,’ Biden told reporters during the news conference on Wednesday.
‘[A study shows] that highly vaccinated nursing home staff is associated with at least 30 percent less COVID-19 cases among long term care [residents].
‘With this announcement, I’m using the power of the federal government as a payer of health care costs to ensure reduce health risks to our most vulnerable seniors.
‘These steps are all about keeping people safe and out of harm’s way.’
Nursing home staff and residents were among the first Americans made eligible for the vaccine back in December.
The facilities quickly became virus hotspots early in the pandemic, and the vulnerable elderly population made up many deaths in the virus’s initial surge.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that 133,631 COVID-19 deaths have occurred among nursing home residents since the pandemic began.
Cases and deaths among nursing home residents in the United States both grew by over 140% from July 18 to August 1.
Cases and deaths among nursing home staff both grew by over 100% in the weeks from July 18 to August 1
That data may not be complete, though, with New York Gov Andrew Cuomo was famously caught adjusting reports to downplay nursing home deaths, and similar allegations made against the state of Michigan.
Cases and deaths in the facilities are rising once again as well, along with the rest of the country as the Indian ‘Delta’ variant continues its rampage across the nation.
According to the CMS, 2,059 COVID-19 cases were detected among nursing home residents in the week of August 1 – the most recent week with data available – a 144 percent increase over the total of 841 from two weeks before.
CNN reports that weekly cases were eight times higher in states where less than half of nursing home staff were vaccinated when compared to others.
This shows that nursing home staff vaccination can play a real role in preventing residents from contracting the virus.
The order from Biden will effect the 40 percent of America’s 1.3 million nursing staffers that are unvaccinated.
It will go into effect as early as next month.
This is not the first time Biden has leveraged the power of the federal government to push Americans to get vaccinated.
Last month, Biden announced new requirements for federal workers an contractors, requiring them to either sign a form attesting they had been vaccinated, or follow string masking and distancing guidelines.
The U.S. military will also begin to require the COVID-19 vaccine among the other shots it requires of its members.
The President has also urged private employers to start requiring employees to get jabbed to keep their jobs.
‘I’m pleased to see the private sector stepping up as well,’ Biden said.
‘In the last week, AT&T, Amtrak, McDonald’s, they all announced vaccine requirements.
‘…Over 200 health Systems, more than 50 in the past two weeks, have announced vaccine requirements.
‘Colleges and universities are requiring more than 5 million students to be vaccinated as they return to classes this fall. All this makes a difference.’
Earlier Wednesday, federal health officials announced that they expected the nation to hit 200 million people at least partially vaccinated at some point during the day.
Currently, 72 percent of American adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 62 percent are fully vaccinated.