As Americans contemplate the prospect of a second winter trapped in the grip of Covid-19, remember that it didn’t need to be this way. Vaccines were developed in record time, and have proved to be both incredibly safe and stunningly effective. Nearly two-thirds of eligible Americans have accepted these facts and done their part by getting fully vaccinated.
Yet tens of millions more have not, allowing the more contagious Delta variant to sweep across the country, where it is now killing more than 1,500 people in the United States daily. Right now, the list of the very sick and the dead is made up almost entirely of the unvaccinated. But as long as the virus continues to spread widely, it can and will evolve in ways that put everyone at risk.
Faced with this avoidable catastrophe, President Biden is right to order tighter vaccine rules, which he did for roughly two-thirds of the nation’s work force on Thursday. “We’ve been patient,” Mr. Biden told vaccine holdouts. “But our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us.”
The president moved to require all executive branch employees, federal contractors and millions of health care workers to be vaccinated. Workers at private businesses with 100 or more employees will have to either get vaccinated or take a weekly Covid test. Any business covered by the order must offer its employees paid time off to get their shots or recover from any side effects.