Coronavirus

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 11: A dose of the new one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination event at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in South Los Angeles on March 11, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. FEMA and California health officials hosted the event. FEMA and California health officials hosted the event. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) Photographer: Mario Tama/Getty Images North America Mario Tama / Getty Images North America, File

By The Associated Press, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has unveiled a new “action plan” plan to confront the COVID-19 surge that’s being driven by the spread of the delta variant. It mandates vaccines for federal workers and contractors and certain health care workers, requires employees at companies with 100 or more workers to be vaccinated or tested weekly, lays the groundwork for a booster shot campaign and recommends that large venues require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. It also recommends that schools be kept open.

Key parts of the plan:

VACCINE MANDATES

— All federal workers and contractors must get vaccinated, with limited exceptions.

— Private employers with 100 or more workers will have to require them to be vaccinated or tested weekly. Employers must offer paid time off to vaccinate their employees.

— About 17 million health care workers in hospitals, clinics and other facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid payments must get vaccinated.

— Some 300,000 employees of Head Start early childhood education and other federal education programs must get vaccinated.

SCHOOLS AND EVENTS

— Governors are urged to require vaccination for school district employees.

— The federal government will continue to follow through with money for widespread testing in schools.

— Stadiums, concert halls and other venues for large events are urged to require proof of vaccination or negative COVID test.

BOOSTERS

— Federal agencies will lay the groundwork for a smooth booster shot campaign, starting the week of Sep. 20 — if the Food and Drug Administration authorizes or approves the boosters.

MASKS AND TESTING

— Mask requirements will continue for interstate travel and in federal buildings. Refusing to cover up will result in double penalties from the Transportation Security Administration.

— The number of pharmacies offering free testing will be expanded to 10,000.

— Walmart, Amazon and Kroger will offer at-home COVID tests at cost, about a 35% savings for consumers.

COVID CARE

— The Pentagon will double military medical teams helping local hospitals overwhelmed with virus patients.

— Federal agencies will boost shipments of a COVID-19 treatment known as monoclonal antibodies by 50%. The treatments will be administered by medical teams.

ECONOMY

— Top loan amounts for small businesses affected by the pandemic will be increased to $2 million from $500,000 currently.