President Joe Biden on Thursday announced new pandemic requirements for millions of federal workers as he spoke of an “American tragedy” – the preventable deaths among unvaccinated citizens.
Federal workers will be required to attest they’ve been vaccinated against the coronavirus or else face mandatory masking, weekly testing, distancing and other new rules.
“This is an American tragedy,” Biden said during remarks from the White House. “People are dying and will die who don’t have to die. If you’re out there unvaccinated, you don’t have to die.
“Every federal government employee will be asked to attest to their vaccination status. Anyone who does not attest or is not vaccinated will be required to mask no matter where they work, test one or two times a week to see if they’ve acquired Covid, socially distance, and generally will not be allowed to travel for work,” Biden said.
Biden encouraged businesses to follow the administration’s lead. Rather than mandating that federal workers receive vaccines, Biden’s plan will allow an easier workplace experience for vaccinated workers compared to new daily and weekly requirements for those who are unvaccinated, hoping to encourage them to comply. Anyone who does not attest to being fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask on the job no matter their geographic location, physically distance from all other employees and visitors, comply with a weekly or twice weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel.
The federal government employs more than 4 million Americans, including over 2 million in the federal civilian workforce, throughout our country and across the world.
Biden directed the Defense Department to look into adding the COVID-19 shot to its list of required vaccinations for members of the military.
“Since many vaccinations are required for active-duty military today, I’m asking the Defense Department to look into how and when they will add Covid-19 to the list of vaccinations that our armed forces must get. Our men and women in uniform will protect this country from grave threats should be protected as much as possible from getting Covid-19,” Biden said.
Earlier this week, like many health care employers across the country, the Department of Veterans Affairs took the common-sense and important step of requiring their health care providers and personnel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Treasury Department said Biden will also be calling on states, territories, and local governments to do more to incentivize vaccination, including offering $100 to Americans getting vaccinated, paid for with American Rescue Plan funding.
Biden also wants to expand paid leave for employees who take time off to get themselves and their family members, including their children, vaccinated. Biden said employers would be reimbursed.
Finally, Biden called on school districts nationwide to host at least one pop-up vaccination clinic over the coming weeks to get more kids 12 and older vaccinated.
“I also want to speak to families with children in school. We can and we must open schools this fall, full-time. It’s better for our children’s mental and emotional well-being, and we can’t afford another year out of the classroom. Every school should be open, and we’re giving them the tools to be able to do so safely. Through the American Rescue Plan we provided schools billions of dollars to implement safety measures, better ventilation, social distancing and other measures,” Biden said.
According to the White House fact sheet, six months into the Biden Administration’s vaccination effort, 164 million Americans are fully vaccinated, including 80 percent of seniors and more than 60 percent of adults.