President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a series of executive orders that will require COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 tests for nearly 100 million Americans.
President Biden announced a variety of new efforts to combat the ongoing public health crisis, including his direction to the U.S. Department of Labor to establish an emergency rule that mandates either vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing for all employers with more than 100 workers, a move that will impact some 80 million workers.
"We have the tools to combat the virus, if we can come together as a country and use those tools," Biden said."We can and we will turn the tide on COVID-19...it'll take a lot of hard work and it's going to take some time."
In addition, all workers at hospitals and other health care facilities who treat patients who are receiving federal Medicare or Medicaid will be required to be fully vaccinated -- some 17 million people.
That full vaccination will also be a requirement for federal employees and for contractors who do business with the federal government, including teachers who are part of the federal government's Head Start program.
"This is not about freedom or personal choice," Biden said. "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."
President Biden's speech can be viewed in full below.
Governor Bill Lee took to his social media accounts to speak out against the announcement on Thursday evening.
“'This is not about freedom' is a phrase that should never come out of a U.S. President’s mouth," Lee said in the post. "For a fight that requires working together, a lot of cynical and divisive edicts came out of the White House today pitting the vaccinated against the unvaccinated, businesses against employees and the federal government against states.
"The Constitution won’t allow this power grab, and in the meantime, I will stand up for all Tennesseans. To be clear: the vaccine is the best tool we have to combat the pandemic but heavy-handed mandates are the wrong approach."