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An anti-vaccination protester in Santa Monica, California, Aug. 29, 2021. (Photo: RINGO CHIU/AFP via Getty Images)

President Biden on Thursday announced aggressive new mandates on vaccinations and testing. Axios experts break down what the announcement means for politics, business and health care.

Axios' political reporter Hans Nichols: White House officials know that Biden was elected to contain the virus — and that if he’s not successful, his entire presidency is at risk.

  • By acknowledging, and then channeling, the deep anger that many vaccinated Americans feel toward the unvaccinated, Biden has ended his diplomatic overtures to the roughly 80 million Americans who have not taken their shot.
  • By laying the blame for the surging Delta variant squarely on unvaccinated Americans, Biden is making a raw political calculation: He’s willing to endure their immediate anger for the broader goal of defeating COVID-19.
  • The heated school board meetings — and occasional brawls at school drop-offs — over mask mandates are likely a harbinger of a bigger, and uglier, conflict over the federal government’s ability to require Americans to get vaccinated.

Axios' health care reporter Caitlin Owens: Most voters are vaccinated and polling suggests Biden may not face as much backlash as Republicans hope — especially if voters ultimately see his heavy hand as helping life get back to normal.

  • But there's potential risk in mandates leading to staffing shortages if more nursing home or hospital workers quit.

Axios' markets reporter Courtenay Brown: Biden’s move will give private sector stragglers cover to flex their vaccine mandate muscle.

  • Some CEOs — particularly those who have manufacturing facilities or a big share of blue-collar workers — have voiced fears that mandating a vaccine could scare off workers who don’t want to comply and aggravate businesses’ difficulty finding employees amid a nationwide labor shortage. But that could dissipate if it’s the new norm across big employers.
  • Biden’s move also might help attract some of the millions of workers on the sidelines who say they aren’t working because they are scared of the virus.
  • Many big companies already were saying their workforce must be vaccinated or face persistent testing, particularly if they want to return to the office. Oil giant Shell was said to be weighing firing employees who refuse to comply. Delta Airlines said workers who forgo shots will face a health insurance surcharge.

Axios' business editor Kate Marino: Many corporate leaders have been looking for stronger guidance on vaccine mandates from the federal government. The downsides are that there are people who may quit jobs while we're in a labor mismatch and war for talent.

Go deeper

Axios-Ipsos poll: Confidence in Biden COVID recovery tumbles

Expand chart
Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Confidence in President Biden's ability to rescue the economy from COVID-19 has dropped since January, even as Americans' faith rises in his ability to make the vaccine widely accessible, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: It's Democrats and independents driving the declining economic confidence, from 52% of all U.S. adults at the start of his presidency to 44% now. Their softening faith could hinder Biden's ability to lead and hurt Democrats' position heading into the 2022 midterms.

Oct 25, 2021 - Health

DeSantis touts bonuses for unvaccinated police who relocate to Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference Friday in Kissimmee, Fla. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced plans Sunday to "hopefully sign" legislation to provide a $5,000 bonus to police officers who relocate to Florida in order to avoid COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Why it matters: The governor's pledge during an appearance on Fox News comes amid escalating tensions with the Biden administration over its upcoming vaccine requirement for federal workers.

Oct 26, 2021 - Health

96% of Tyson Foods employees vaccinated ahead of mandate deadline

Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

Tyson Foods said Tuesday that more than 96% of its workers have received the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the company's Nov. 1 deadline to get all employees vaccinated.

Driving the news: Tyson Foods CEO Donnie King said nearly 60,000 additional workers received the shots after the company announced its vaccine mandate in August. At the time, a little less than half of all employees had been vaccinated.

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