U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday urged large companies and other organizations to implement his government's new COVID-19 vaccination mandates which have sparked concern and pushback.
"These requirements work ... More people are getting vaccinated. More lives are being saved," said Biden in suburban Chicago at an event promoting the requirements.
Biden was in Elk Grove Village where he toured a construction site being run by Clayco. The company announced Thursday it would be implementing a vaccination or testing requirement for its employees moving forward.
"We have to beat this thing," Biden said. "So while I didn't race to do it right away, that's why I had to move toward requirements that everyone get vaccinated where I had the authority to do that."
Biden, who prioritized handling the pandemic after assuming office, announced in September sweeping new federal vaccine requirements for as many as 100 million Americans, including private-sector employees as well as health care workers and federal contractors.
The vaccine mandates, however, faced pushback from Republicans and other critics, who argue it smacks of government overreach and takes away people's rights to make their own medical decisions.
Recent weeks also saw the Consumer Brands Association, which represents 1,700 U.S. brands, urge the Biden administration to accelerate federal guidelines and clarify how businesses are expected to implement the new vaccine orders.
The business groups were also concerned about how vaccination status should be verified, how to deal with religious exemptions, whether those working at home will need to be vaccinated, and who will pay for testing.
As of Thursday, the COVID-19 fatalities in the United States topped 709,000 with over 44 million infections, according to a tally by the Johns Hopkins University.
About 56.2 percent of the U.S. population have been fully vaccinated as of Thursday, showed the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data.