President Biden will announce Thursday that federal employees and contractors must either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to regular testing, according to a report.
The CNN report came hours after the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention announced it was recommending vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors in counties with at least 50 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period — a description that covers nearly two-thirds of all US counties.
The federal vaccine requirement will be similar to that laid out by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who announced Monday that a vaccination-or-test mandate would be in effect for the entire city workforce, according to CNN.
In a statement responding to the new recommendations, Biden announced that he would “lay out the next steps in our effort to get more Americans vaccinated” Thursday and implored those eligible who have not already gotten the shot to do so.
“Today’s announcement by the CDC … is another step on our journey to defeating this virus. I hope all Americans who live in the areas covered by the CDC guidance will follow it; I certainly will when I travel to these areas,” the president said, later adding, “Most importantly, today’s announcement also makes clear that the most important protection we have against the Delta variant is to get vaccinated. Although most U.S. adults are vaccinated, too many are not.”
Those who work in publicly-run residential or congregate care facilities, including nursing homes, will be required to present proof of vaccination by Aug. 16 or submit to weekly testing. Employees at all other city agencies will have until Sept. 13 to show that they got jabbed.
On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to mandate that its health care personnel get vaccinated against coronavirus. Secretary Denis McDonough said the directive applies to physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, expanded-function dental auxiliaries, chiropractors and other health professionals who work in VA facilities, visit the facilities or provide direct care to those served by the federal agency.
Biden is also expected to announce Thursday how the Defense Department should approach the issue of vaccinating service members. Currently, there is no mandate in place for America’s soldiers, sailors and airmen to get the vaccine.
The expected mandate is likely to be challenged in court, due to the fact that the vaccines have only been approved on an emergency basis by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
However, in an opinion earlier this month, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) stated their belief that federal law does not preclude governments and private businesses from requiring vaccinations even if they are only approved on an emergency basis.