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Who will pay for required COVID tests?

Many businesses are offering unvaccinated employees the option to submit regular COVID test results. But are they footing the bill?

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Last week, President Joe Biden announced that businesses with 100 or more employees will have to require workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested for the virus weekly.

It's part of the administration's new action plan to ramp up vaccinations as the U.S. continues to see elevated coronavirus cases.

This mandate will affect about 80 million Americans, including tens of millions who remain unvaccinated despite months of availability and incentives. 

And if you fall into that unvaccinated category, you may be wondering who is going to pay for these weekly required COVID tests.

According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, it's up to the business.

At a Sept. 10 briefing, Psaki said employers can choose whether to cover the cost of COVID testing or to make unvaccinated employees foot the bill.

"I would bet that most would believe the businesses that pay for that," the press secretary said. FactCheck.org reported that aspect would be ironed out as part of finalizing Biden's rules.

The prices of COVID-19 tests range depending on where you get them done. 

Walgreens offers free COVID testing for anyone ages 3 and up. CVS offers free testing for those with insurance and through the federal program for the uninsured. However, if you would like to get tested without going through one of those programs, the test costs $139.

The Florida Department of Health has an online tool to help you find testing sites in your area. Just enter your address or county on the website.

Biden previously said that he did not want to have to mandate the vaccine. 

So why the change of heart?

The first reason, according to Psaki, is that the administration did not anticipate that once the vaccine was free and widely available that there would be such opposition to it, "especially given it was approved under the former president, a Republican President."

Psaki said the second reason for the mandate is that 80 million people in the U.S. are still not vaccinated. The third reason, she noted, is "the vulnerability of children, of immunocompromised and other given the transmissibility of the delta variant."


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