Biden to require vaccination or regular testing for federal workers
On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced a plan to require federal workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or face regular testing and other measures.
Under the mandate, all federal workers on federal property who do not attest to being vaccinated or are not vaccinated will have to wear a mask, undergo testing several times a week, practice social distancing and be subject to travel restrictions. The requirement applies to federal contractors as well.
“If you want to do business with the federal government, get your workers vaccinated,” Biden said.
Additionally, the administration said it was expanding federal tax credits for small and medium businesses to provide employees paid time off to get vaccinated, and asking state and local governments to use federal money — including funds received through the American Rescue plan — to offer $100 to people who get vaccinated.
“If incentives help us beat this virus, I think we should use them,” Biden said.
Lastly, Biden said he is working with the Department of Defense to figure out how and when to add COVID-19 to the list of vaccines required for active military service.
“Our men and women in uniform, who protect this country from grave threats, should be protected as much as possible from getting COVID-19,” he said.
Earlier this week, Pfizer disclosed data showing that a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine boosts protection, including against the delta variant. However, Biden said his medical advisors have told him that a booster is not yet needed.
“No American needs a booster now,” Biden said. “But if the science tells us there's a need for boosters, then that's something we'll do, and we have purchased all the supply we need to be ready, if that was called for.”
His remarks come 2 days after the CDC revised its mask guidance to say that all individuals, vaccinated or not, should wear a mask indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission.
The new CDC guidance was based on evidence that vaccinated people infected with the delta variant may be able to spread the virus, CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, said. According to Walensky, the delta variant accounts for 80% of new cases in the United States.
COVID-19 vaccine mandates had already reached the federal level amid a spike in cases and lagging vaccination rates. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that it would require vaccination for medical employees who work in Veterans Health Administration facilities.
In May, Biden announced a goal to get 70% of U.S. adults at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 4, which the country did not hit.
“We're not fully out of the woods yet because what is happening in America right now is … a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Biden said. “There are about 90 million Americans who are eligible to get the shot but haven't gotten it yet.”
CDC. COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States. https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations. Accessed July 29, 2021.
Shear MD. Biden to require federal workers to be vaccinated or take regular tests. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/28/us/politics/biden-federal-workers-vaccination.html. Accessed July 29, 2021.