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President Biden speaking from the White House on Aug. 16. Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Biden said Wednesday that nursing home and long-term care facilities must vaccinate their staff against COVID-19 to continue to receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funding in response to lagging vaccination rates and a surge of new cases from the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Federal data showed that 60% of nursing home staff and around 82% of residents had been vaccinated against the virus in early August, even though they were among the first groups in the country to gain access to vaccines earlier this year.

By the numbers: In total, 664,815 nursing home and long-term care residents have contracted the virus. 133,631 died from COVID-19 as of early August, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

  • 597,087 of the facilities' staff members contracted the virus and at least 1,994 died.
  • The mandate applies to over 15,000 nursing home facilities, which employ approximately 1.3 million workers and serve approximately 1.6 million nursing home residents.

What they're saying: "With this announcement, I am using the power of the federal government, as a payer of health care costs, to ensure and reduce those risks to the most vulnerable seniors," Biden said. "These steps are all about keeping people safe and out of harm's way."

  • "The studies show that highly vaccinated nursing home staffs is associated with at least 30% less COVID-19 cases in long-term care residents," he added.

Biden also outlined plans to offer a coronavirus booster shot starting the week of Sept. 20, pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • He said that people will be eligible for booster shots eight months after their second dose, saying it will "make you safer and for longer and help us end the pandemic faster."

The big picture: The new mandate comes as the Biden administration attempts to devise ways to increase vaccination rates by increasing penalties on those who have not yet been vaccinated.

Go deeper: The case for coronavirus booster shots for Americans

Editor's note: This story has been updated with details about Biden's booster shot plans.

Go deeper

Oct 21, 2021 - Health

India crosses 1 billion COVID vaccinations milestone

A health worker inoculates a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a man wearing a face mask of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Beawar, India, in September. Photo: Sumit Saraswat/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Thursday that the country's health workers have now administered more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines doses.

Of note: While this is a significant milestone for the country of 1.4 billion, which has been devastated by the coronavirus, only about 30% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, per AP. Roughly 75% have received at least one dose.

Updated Oct 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer booster has 95.6% efficacy, large study shows — FDA authorizes mix-and-match for booster shots — J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year.
  2. Health: Cases and deaths keep falling — White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11 — The global coronavirus vaccine gap — Gates Foundation to send $120 million of antiviral pills to lower-income countries.
  3. Politics: Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID — Puerto Rico leads U.S. vaccination rates — Hawaii invites fully vaccinated travelers to return from Nov. 1.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

DeSantis to convene state legislature to fight COVID vaccine mandates

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that he will convene a special session of the state legislature to combat coronavirus vaccine mandates enacted by businesses and "provide protections for employees."

Why it matters: This is the Republican governor's latest move to penalize local entities that implement mask or vaccine mandates to contain the spread of the virus.