A potentially major shift in policy could be required by the White House that would mandate federal employees receive regular testing and wear masks if immune to the coronavirus or submit to vaccinations – reflecting growing concerns about the spread of the more contagious delta variant.
The White House May Mandate Vaccines For Federal Workers
One option that is being considered by the Biden administration is a mandatory vaccination requirement for federal employees, irrespective of whether the disease is spreading in their area, according to a source familiar with the plans. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity to share information that has not been publicly released
We expect the White House to announce its decision this week after completing its policy review. As per an Office of Management and Budget analysis, more than 4.2 million federal employees, including military personnel, worked nationwide in 2020.
The president said on Tuesday that the idea of scaling up the mandate to all federal workers is being considered, but did not provide further details. Veterans Affairs has become the first federal agency to require health workers to take vaccinations.
It would represent the most significant shift by the Biden administration since the day it inherited the White House in response to a surge in the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations nationwide mainly caused by a mutation and outbreak among parents with vaccinations.
Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that they were shifting their masking guidelines to recommend that all Americans from counties with high rates of Coronavirus transmission indoors should wear masks. As quickly as it had happened, the masks had returned to the White House.
Washington, D.C., is experiencing high levels of transmission, according to CDC data released Tuesday afternoon. White House staff, therefore, are required to wear masks indoors starting Wednesday. Press staff and reporters remaining at the White House started masking up shortly after being instructed to do so.
An aide to Vice President Kamala Harris handed out masks at one of her earlier day events, telling the reporters to put them on before entering her meeting with Native American leaders. As in the past, US citizens will have to wear masks again.
In a memo issued late Tuesday, Capitol’s Attending Physician Brian P. Monahan cited the new CDC guidance regarding the mask requirement for everyone entering the House chamber or any other interior space within the complex while others are present. If lawmakers are recognized to speak during proceedings, exceptions will be made to the existing house rules for the imposition of fines.
The Associated Press obtained a similar letter in which Monahan recommended all wear well-fitted, medical-grade filtration masks. Those who choose not to receive vaccines are the ones sowing enormous confusion, Biden said. He added that the more we learn about this virus and the delta variation, the more concerned we need to be. It is certainly one thing: If those other 100 million people were vaccinated, we would live in an entirely different world, he told reporters on Tuesday, after speaking to intelligence community employees at the National Intelligence Office.
Yet, the whiplash over masking and vaccinations – Jen Psaki had evaded questions just one day earlier over why the government had yet to require vaccines for its workers – reflects uncertainty over the impact of the Coronavirus.
A variety of government agencies, businesses, hospitals, and universities have instituted vaccination mandates over the past few months, but only 60% of adults in the United States have been fully vaccinated, and communities with low vaccination rates are being affected adversely by the new Coronavirus outbreak. In the United States, the number of cases and hospitalizations of COVID-19 is on average 57,000 per day.
Biden’s administration has avoided adopting a vaccination mandate for its employees so far – in part because officials are hesitant to further politicize the issue by taking an extreme stance in favor of vaccines. According to Psaki, the administration is aware that Biden’s support for vaccine mandates could harden opponents’ stances against vaccinations.
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