Biden requires vaccinations or regular testing, masks for federal workers

Gabrielle Masson - Print  | 

President Joe Biden announced July 29 that all federal workers are to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo regular testing, reports The Washington Post.

"We're seeing a spike in COVID cases," President Biden said in remarks at the White House. "Why? Because of this new form, this new variant called the delta variant."

Federal workers who aren't fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask at work, physically distance from other staff and visitors, and undergo regular testing. The directive includes federal employees and contractors both in the U.S. and overseas. The requirement will not apply to the U.S. military. 

"It's literally about life and death," President Biden said, adding, "With freedom comes responsibility. Your decision to be unvaccinated impacts someone else. Unvaccinated people spread the virus."

"It is a choice that employees will be able to make because largely unvaccinated people continue to spread the virus," Karine Jean-Pierre, deputy White House press secretary, told reporters before the briefing. "And until we have more people who are vaccinated and are curbing the spread, there needs to be proper protocols to keep Americans safe." 

The announcement was accompanied by a series of new federal efforts, including incentives, in an attempt to encourage vaccinations.

The move follows multiple other new mandates and guidelines as COVID-19 surges across the U.S. On July 26, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for 115,000 of its front-line healthcare workers. The CDC released new guidance July 27 recommending fully vaccinated Americans resume wearing masks indoors in certain regions of the U.S., while also updating testing guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals.

 

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