As US Gives 200 Mln Vaccine Shots, Biden Urges Employers To Give Time Off For Vaccination

64858 new coronavirus cases were reported in the United States on Monday, taking the national total to 31885049. This is higher than the 7-day average of 62968.

879 new deaths were reported in the country on the same day. With this, the COVID death toll in the U.S. increased to 568962. The 7-day average of COVID deaths is 721.

Texas recorded a rapid rise in COVID fatalities (127) and daily cases (6139) Wednesday.

Michigan, which had been the worst COVID hot spot in the country for weeks, recorded relatively lower tolls in both COVID metrics.

Case numbers nationwide have been largely stagnant for the last month. Around 67,000 new infections are being identified each day, down from about 250,000 daily at the January peak.

Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced that his administration achieved the goal of 200 million vaccine shots administered in 100 days. He said the target was reached on his 92nd day in office. He quoted some experts as saying that the rapid vaccination effort has already saved tens of thousands of American lives.

“Now that we’ve reached this milestone, we’re entering a new phase of our vaccination effort. As of Monday, at my direction, with the support of 50 governors — Democrats and Republicans, alike — everyone over the age of 16 will be eligible to get vaccinated,” Biden said at a White House update on his government’s fight against the pandemic and the State of Vaccinations.

“Wherever you live, whatever your circumstances, if you are 16 or older, you are now eligible for a free COVID vaccine shot, and we have the vaccine to deliver,” he added.

Biden announced that 80 percent of American seniors have received their first shot. “It will be another month or so before we see the full benefits of this effort, as many seniors still need the second shot plus the two weeks to gain that protection after the second shot”.

He noted that the country witnessed a dramatic decline in deaths among people over the age of 65 — an 80 percent reduction in deaths of people in this age group.

Biden also cited “great progress” made with another target group. Within a month, 80 percent of educators, school staff, bus drivers, and child care workers had received at least one shot, and schools and child care centers all over the country are reopening.

The President said he is calling on “every employer, large and small, in every state, to give employees the time off they need, with pay, to get vaccinated and any time they need, with pay, to recover if they are feeling under the weather after the shot.”

Biden noted that the grocery store Krogers offered employees $100 to get vaccinated, which helped push vaccination rates from 50 percent to 75 percent among their associates.

To make sure this policy comes at no cost to small or medium-sized businesses with fewer than 500 employees, the IRS is posting instructions for how employers can get reimbursed for the cost of providing paid leave for their employees to get vaccinated.

In the worst COVID situation outside the U.S., on Wednesday, India recorded the highest number of daily cases in any country in the world. A total of 314,835 new coronavirus cases and 2,104 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. Both the metrics are the highest recorded in the country since the outbreak of the pandemic more than a year ago.

Reports are coming from many parts of the country where people are dying without getting the treatment they need or due to shortage of oxygen. The Delhi High court, in the capital city, criticized the central government for its handling of the oxygen crisis. Many hospitals in the country have ran out of capacity under the pressure of the coronavirus second wave.

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