Biden calls on firms to mandate COVID vax

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More US businesses should mandate workers to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, President Joe Biden says, calling the move vital to ending the pandemic and sustaining the economy.

"Today I'm calling on more employers to act," Biden said. "My message is: Require your employees to get vaccinated.

"With vaccinations, we're going to beat this pandemic finally. Without them, we face endless months of chaos in our hospitals, damage to our economy and anxiety in our schools."

Biden last month ordered all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated, and for private employers with 100 or more workers to require staff to be vaccinated by December 8, or get tested for the coronavirus weekly.

That order covers 100 million people, about two-thirds of the workforce.

Immunisation requirements have broad public support, and Wall Street economists agree higher vaccination rates will stoke economic growth and add jobs, the president said.

Biden's workplace vaccine order has spurred pushback from high-profile Republican governors and resistant Americans.

"I know the vaccination requirements are a tough medicine, unpopular with some, politics for others. But they're life saving and game changing for our country," Biden said.

Biden's mandate announcement in September came at a breaking-point moment as his administration struggled to control the pandemic, which has killed more than 700,000 Americans, as a large swath of the nation's population refused to accept free vaccinations that have been available for months.

A surge of hospitalisations and deaths caused by the highly contagious Delta variant has threatened not just the country but a president who ran on promises to gain control over the pandemic.

Biden's approval ratings have sagged since he said in July the United States was "closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus".

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said cases and hospitalisations have edged down on average over the last seven days, but cautioned that deaths - a lagging indicator - are still at 1400 per day, primarily among the unvaccinated.

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