Biden expected to announce vaccine requirement for federal workers this week
President Biden is expected to announce Thursday that federal government employees and contractors must get a COVID-19 vaccine or they will be subject to frequent testing for the virus, a source familiar with the plans confirmed to The Hill.
Biden will outline the new protocols for federal workers during a speech Thursday in which he plans to detail efforts to get more Americans vaccinated as cases around the country are on the rise.
White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday that no decision has been finalized, but a system where federal employees must get the vaccine or submit to strict safety protocols is under "strong consideration."
The president on Tuesday acknowledged his administration is considering making it mandatory for federal workers to get the coronavirus vaccine.
"That is under consideration right now, but if you’re not vaccinated, you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were," Biden said during a visit to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Multiple outlets reported the White House announcement will likely be similar to what New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday, which is that city workers will be required to be vaccinated by mid-September or submit to weekly testing.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on Monday announced it would require its front-line health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, making it the first federal agency to institute a mandate for coronavirus vaccinations.
The Office of Management and Budget issued a memo to all federal agencies saying employees must wear a face covering indoors regardless of vaccination status.
The administration is seeking ways to get the pandemic under control as the U.S. sees thousands more infections each day than it did at the start of July, with the highly contagious delta variant responsible for the surge.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday that vaccinated Americans are encouraged to wear masks indoors if they are in areas with high levels of virus transmission, though many Republicans have already balked at the recommendations, underscoring the difficulty the White House will have in getting some Americans to change their behaviors.