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Biden to push vaccine mandates by meeting with top executives from Microsoft, Walgreens, others

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Cuban American leaders in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, United States, July 30, 2021.

Evelyne Hockstein | Reuters

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will discuss the effectiveness of employer vaccination mandates with executives from companies including Walt Disney, Microsoft, Columbia Sportswear and the Walgreens Boots Alliance on Wednesday.

The White House meeting will be mostly in-person, with a few attendees in attendance virtually, a White House official told CNBC.

The event will showcase companies that have put in place mandatory Covid vaccination policies for all their staff, and how these requirements have dramatically improved vaccination rates among employees.

“This event will serve as a rallying cry for more businesses across the country to step up and institute similar measures,” said a White House official who spoke in the background to preview the event.

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Attendees will include Microsoft President Brad Smith, Disney CEO Bob Chapek, Walgreens CEO Roz Brewer, Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle and Greg Adams, Kaiser Permanente CEO.

Business Roundtable President and CEO Josh Bolten, President and CEO of Philadelphia Children’s Hospital Madeline Bell, Louisiana State University President William Tate and Molly Moon Neitzel, Founder and CEO of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream are also expected.

The meeting comes a week after Biden announced sweeping new rules that will require all businesses with more than 100 employees to require either vaccination or weekly Covid testing. Companies that don’t comply could face thousands of dollars in fines per employee.

Biden said the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are drafting the rules, which are expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Once implemented, company rules will impact up to 80 million workers.

The private sector mandates come in addition to executive orders signed by Biden that require all federal employees and federal government contractors to be vaccinated.

He also announced the vaccine needs for 17 million healthcare workers in facilities receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds, including hospitals, home care facilities and dialysis centers.

In total, the new rules will apply to nearly 100 million American workers.

In developing the new rules, the Biden administration consulted with lawyers and White House legal experts.

But major legal and logistical questions remain.

So far, many large employers and institutions across the country have implemented a patchwork of vaccine incentives and requirements for their workers.

At Walgreens, for example, all office workers need to be vaccinated by September 30.

September 30 is also the deadline for salaried and non-union Walt Disney employees to get vaccinated. Unionized workers will have three more weeks, under the terms of an agreement Walt Disney reached with the Service Trades Council Union in August.

Microsoft, meanwhile, requires all employees, visitors and suppliers entering its US offices to be vaccinated.

Biden’s vaccine mandate for midsize and large employers has been strongly rebuffed by Republican governors, who say the requirements violate state laws.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a lawsuit against the requirements on Tuesday, saying a warrant for companies with more than 100 employees is unconstitutional.