With the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus creating headwinds for the economic recovery in the United States, President Joe Biden is meeting with some of the biggest CEOs in the country on Wednesday as part of his efforts to get more jabs into American arms.
The meeting – which the White House said will include the chiefs of Walt Disney Co, Columbia Sportswear, Microsoft and Walgreens Boots Alliance, among other business figures – comes less than a week after Biden announced that the US Department of Labor is developing an emergency rule requiring companies with 100 employees or more to either have their workers be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19.
The rule would cover roughly two-thirds of US workers.
All the companies attending Wednesday’s meeting have either issued vaccine mandates for their workforces or are developing them, said the White House.
Other vaccine measures announced by Biden last week include mandating that nearly all federal employees be fully vaccinated. On Monday, his administration said federal workers have until November 22 to comply with the order.
Public health mandates around COVID-19 are a partisan political football game in the US, with some Republican-led states digging in against advice given by health officials.
Meanwhile, Biden – a Democrat – has been redoubling his efforts to boost the nation’s vaccination rate. Some 54 percent of Americans are currently fully vaccinated, while 63.2 percent have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The White House said Josh Bolten, president and CEO of the Business Roundtable, a trade association that represents businesses employing some 20 million workers, will also attend Wednesday’s meeting.
Last week, after Biden announced the new vaccine measures, Bolten expressed his support for them. “America’s business leaders know how critical vaccination and testing are in defeating the pandemic,” he said in a statement. “Business Roundtable looks forward to continue working with the Administration and leaders across all levels of government to defeat the pandemic.”