Surgeon General Just Issued This "Curveball" Warning
With health experts adamant that the only way to stop the coronavirus pandemic is to get more people vaccinated, President Joe Biden announced a six point plan last week to do just that, including vaccine mandates for many American workers. How does this affect you? Dr. Vivek Murthy, the nation's Surgeon General, appeared on CNN's State of the Union this morning to discuss why these mandates are necessary to save your life, and how you can stay safe. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Surgeon General Warned Delta is Dangerous: "We Have to Do Everything We Can"
Why issue a mandate now, when Biden previously promised there would be none? One word: Delta. It's more transmissible and thus more dangerous. "The announcement the President made includes a number of measures that will help us address the Delta variant," said Murthy, explaining the change of mind. Besides vaccine mandates for certain workers, that "includes also measures to increase our testing capacity, to shore up our hospitals and healthcare systems still struggling with Delta." He said "we have to use every lever of government, and we all in the private sector have to do everything we can to tackle this virus." He said regarding the mandates: "The data tells us that these requirements work to increase vaccinations." And "a lot of businesses are actually relieved that these are going into place. And we've heard a lot of feedback from the business round table and others that this will help create safer workplaces….This is what we've got to do to get to the next phase of this pandemic response so that we can get through this and get back to normal once and for all."
Surgeon General Warns That Delta Has Been a "Curveball"
Murthy said the recent mandates "are not the only set of aggressive actions that we've taken. The administration—we've been working extraordinarily hard to vaccinate people. We've made progress—200 million people have gotten at least one shot of the vaccine. And that's one of the reasons why we've actually saved many lives. Now with Delta, which was a new twist, a twist if you will, a new curveball, it has required us to take another set of actions….This is what we'd have to do ultimately to tackle the Delta variant."
Surgeon General Said He'll be Monitoring People Using Fake Religious Exemptions to Get Out of Vaccinations
Bash asked Murthy if he feared people would claim religious exemption to get out of taking the vaccine. "That's always a possibility," said Murthy. "It's something that we have fortunately had experience with as a country. We've had vaccine requirements for a number of other illnesses. We do that in schools, for example, you and I went to grade school, we likely had to make sure and confirm that we had certain vaccines in place before we actually came to school. So fortunately, as a country, we have experienced in dealing with exemptions, but we've got to be vigilant there and make sure that people are using them in the spirit that they're intended, and not abusing them or asking for exemptions when they don't apply. That's the main area that we continue to monitor in the days and weeks ahead."
Surgeon General Says Here's Why There are No Vaccine Mandates for Travel (Yet)
Biden announced doubling, says Murthy, "the fines for those who do not observe some of those precautions, especially around masks on airplanes and other forms of transport. The important thing for us to remember is that in order to keep travel safe, it requires all of us to do our part and vaccines certainly help in that regard." So why not mandate them for travel? "The equity concerns," said Murthy. "To ensure that people, for example, if they had to travel in the case of an emergency to see a relative who got sick would be able to do that, even if they weren't vaccinated, we need to find a safe way for that to happen. So there are important considerations there that we need to weigh."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.