A new report claims that the Biden administration is looking for a "tougher approach" to get COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of Americans as the coronavirus cases increase across the country.
One alleged strategy that President Joe Biden's administration considered was requiring Americans to get a vaccine passport for interstate travel. Conservatives quickly swung back at the Biden administration for even considering making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for interstate travel.
The Associated Press reports that the Biden administration is weighing possible penalties for Americans who don't get vaccinated, and ways to make their lives "more uncomfortable."
"White House officials say Biden wanted to initially operate with restraint to ensure that Americans were ready for the strong-arming from the federal government," the article states. "The federal moves have been carefully calibrated to encourage a wave of businesses and governments to follow suit."
"He has refrained from using all his powers to pressure Americans to get vaccinated," the Associated Press claims. "He's held off, for instance, on proposals to require vaccinations for all air travelers or, for that matter, the federal workforce. The result is a precarious balancing act as Biden works to make life more uncomfortable for the unvaccinated without spurring a backlash in a deeply polarized country that would only undermine his public health goals."
Ben Wakana, the deputy director of strategic communications and engagement for the White House COVID-19 response, said vaccine mandates are "the right lever at the right time."
"Still, while more severe measures — such as mandating vaccines for interstate travel or changing how the federal government reimburses treatment for those who are unvaccinated and become ill with COVID-19 — have been discussed," the report says.
The outlet notes that the Biden administration is concerned that these actions "would be too polarizing at this time." A White House official said that mandating vaccines for interstate travel is "not under consideration at the moment."
The mere thought of the Biden administration even considering ignited instant backlash from conservatives on social media.
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R): "While Biden is considering mandating vaccines for interstate travel, he is allowing a record number of illegal migrants to cross our southern border—many of whom test positive for COVID. This double standard is dangerous & must be stopped."
- Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.): "Biden's plan: Limits on interstate travel for Americans. Open borders for illegal immigrants."
- "Hillbilly Elegy" author and Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance: "Immoral and unconstitutional."
- National Review contributor Pradheep J. Shanker: "Polarizing? How about ILLEGAL AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL? Or does Biden not care about that? Even worse: DEMOCRATS OPPOSED SOMETHING SIMILAR WHEN TRUMP CONSIDERED IT AT THE HEIGHT OF THE PANDEMIC!!!!"
- Conservative editor-in-chief Jonah Goldberg: "I'm pro-vaccine. I'm in favor of lots of extraordinary measures to get people vaccinated. But requiring proof of vaccination for interstate travel strikes me as one of the dumbest, most unworkable, and counter-productive ideas out there. I hope it stays on the drawing board."
- Conservative commentator Dana Loesch: "But voting without ID is fine."
- Former CIA ops officer Bryan Dean Wright: "Shutting down interstate travel over a virus with a 99% survival rate? Naw. This ain't about public health."
- Podcast host Liz Wheeler: "Mandating the covid vaxx for interstate travel has 'been discussed'?! Hell no. This is a called a test balloon, to prepare people for when the Biden admin drops this dictate. This is OUTRAGEOUS."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 167 million Americans are fully vaccinated, which is just over 50% of the U.S. population. Meanwhile, the current 7-day moving average of daily new COVID-19 cases increased 18.4% compared with the previous 7-day moving average, according to CDC data.