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Biden to Visit Chicago Area Thursday, Highlight Vaccine Requirements – NBC Chicago

President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Chicago Thursday, more than a week after he first planned to travel to the city before his visit was postponed.

The president is set to arrive at O’Hare International Airport during the afternoon and will at one point travel to Elk Grove Village, resuming his plans to tout vaccine mandates.

“The president will travel to the Chicago, Illinois area to highlight the importance of COVID-19 vaccine requirements,” the White House said in a release Monday.

In Elk Grove Village, Biden will visit a construction site being built by Clayco, one of the largest construction companies in the Midwest. The company is taking action weeks ahead of a forthcoming rule by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that will require all employers with more than 100 employees to require that their staffs be vaccinated or face weekly testing for the coronavirus.

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White House officials said Biden will encourage other businesses to follow suit, by taking action ahead of the OSHA rule and to go even further by requiring shots for their employees without offering a test-out option.

He is also slated to meet with United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby. The Chicago-based airline has one of the strictest vaccine mandate policies of any U.S. airline, with no testing option for employees. 

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker are both expected to meet the president at O’Hare Airport.

Lightfoot and Pritzker have both praised area businesses requiring vaccinations for customers in both the city and state, though they have stopped short of issuing mandates citywide or statewide. Certain groups are required to get vaccinated in the state, however, including health care workers, teachers and higher education students.

“I applaud those venues requiring vaccination proof or a negative test to get admittance,” Lightfoot said in September. “I think we’ll see more of that. This is a conversation happening across every industry sector, and we support it.”

As of Thursday, 62.8% of Illinois’ 12 and older population have been fully vaccinated and 80.3% have received at least one shot. In Chicago, 73.6% of those 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

New York City, San Francisco and New Orleans are among the cities that have started requiring proof of vaccination for public indoor spaces. This week, Los Angeles city leaders adopted one of the nation’s strictest vaccine mandates, a sweeping measure requiring the shots for everyone entering a bar, restaurant, nail salon, gym or basketball game at Staples Center.

Biden’s Chicago visit comes as the White House releases a new report stating vaccine requirements are helping to drive up vaccination rates across the country.

“The president’s message will be clear: Vaccination requirements work. Vaccination requirements get more people vaccinated, helping to end the pandemic and strengthen the economy,” the White House said in a statement. “That’s why he’s leading on implementing vaccination requirements for 100 million workers – two-thirds of all workers in the U.S. And that’s why we’re seeing growing momentum for vaccination requirements across sectors and across the country.”

The president had been slated to visit the city last Wednesday, but the trip was canceled one day before his scheduled visit as negotiations over key legislation were underway.

Biden last month month unveiled a so-called “action plan” aimed at confronting the COVID-19 surge being driven by the spread of the delta variant, which will require vaccinations for millions of workers across the country.

The expansive rules mandate that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting about 80 million Americans. And the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.

Biden is also requiring vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government — with no option to test out. That covers several million more workers.

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