Biden is contemplating a vaccine or testing mandate for federal workers: NPR
President Biden made remarks during an event in the White House Rose Garden on Monday. Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images Hide caption
Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images
Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images
President Biden is said to “strongly consider” new requirements for federal employees in order to curb the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus.
One option being considered is checking that federal employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 using a “vaccination certificate,” says a source familiar with the considerations, Tamara Keith of NPR.
According to the policy, federal employees who have not been confirmed vaccinated would have to wear masks at all times while on the job and be regularly tested for the virus, the source said on condition of anonymity.
The policy review is expected to complete later this week.
Biden was asked by reporters Tuesday if he was considering a vaccination mandate for the federal workforce. “This is currently being checked,” he replied.
In a statement, Biden said he would set out his next steps on how to vaccinate more Americans on Thursday, noting that vaccinations are the best way to protect against the Delta variant.
“More vaccinations and the wearing of masks in the areas hardest hit by the Delta variant will allow us to avoid the kind of locks, closings, school closings and disruptions we faced in 2020,” he said.
New CDC instructions
The president’s statement followed Tuesday’s revised guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC reversed a position, recommending that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors when in locations with “significant” or “high” spread of the virus.
Most of the United States counties currently fall under these two categories.
Biden added in his statement, “I hope all Americans living in the areas covered by the CDC guidelines will follow this; I will certainly do it when I travel to these areas. “
The Delta variant is at least twice as contagious as the strain first seen in the United States and is the driving force behind a new surge in cases across the country.
“This decision was not made lightly,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday about the updated guidelines.
However, Walensky said the agency needs to consider the surge in cases and data showing that while vaccinated people can rarely become infected and spread the virus.
“The Delta variant shows its willingness to outsmart us every day,” she said.
Vaccine mandates are increasing
On Monday, the Federal Ministry of Veterans Affairs announced that all frontline health workers will need to be vaccinated over the next two months.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all city workers would either need to be vaccinated or tested for the virus on a weekly basis. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a similar policy for government employees and health care workers.
The CDC now also recommends universal internal masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
NPR’s Roberta Rampton and Laurel Wamsley contributed.