Biden Announces Requirements For Federal Workers Amid Delta Variant Surge

Biden will require anyone not fully vaccinated to wear a mask at work regardless of where they live, social distance, and get tested once or twice a week. 

WASHINGTON — In an effort to get shots in people’s arms, President Joe Biden announced incentives for those who get their vaccination and called on states, territories, and local governments to do more to incentivize vaccination.

Biden directed the Treasury Department to offer $100 to those who get vaccinated and to reimburse small and medium-sized businesses for offering their employees paid leave to get their family members vaccinated.

“I know that paying people to get vaccinated might sound unfair to folks who have gotten vaccinated already. But here’s the deal, if incentives help us beat this virus, I believe we should use them,” Biden said at the White House Thursday. “We all benefit if we can get more people vaccinated.”

The President also announced every federal worker onsite contractor will be asked to “attest to their vaccination status” and will require anyone not fully vaccinated to wear a mask at work regardless of where they live, social distance, and get tested once or twice a week. 

Biden also directed the Department of Defense to look into how and when they will add COVID-19 vaccination to the list of required vaccinations for military members, according to a facts sheet released to the media.

“It’s literally about life and death. It’s about life and death. That’s what it’s about,” Biden said “I know people talk about freedom. But I learned growing up, school and my parents, with freedom, comes responsibility. Your decision to be unvaccinated impacts someone else. Unvaccinated people spread the virus. They get sick and fill up our hospitals. And that means if someone else has a heart attack or breaks a hip, there may not be a hospital bed for them.”

The Pfizer, Moderna, and the Johnson and Johnson vaccines were granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) but the FDA is facing increased pressure to issue full authorization of the vaccines.

“The FDA recognizes that vaccines are key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic and is working as quickly as possible to review applications for full approval,” FDA spokesperson Alison Hunt said in a statement.

Earlier this week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed its guidelines and recommended everyone — including vaccinated individuals — wear masks indoors in areas of substantial or high Covid-19 transmission.

According to CDC data, just 49.4% of the total US population is fully vaccinated.

The news is a direct reversal from the July 4 celebration at the White House, where Biden said Americans were “celebrating their independence from the virus”. Thursday, the President acknowledged the American people’s frustration but said to remain cautious.

“We have the right plan. We’re coming back. We just have to stay ahead of this virus,” Biden said. “I know this is hard to hear. I know it’s frustrating. I know it’s exhausting to think that we’re still in this fight. And I know that we hoped this would be a simple, straightforward line without problems or new challenges. But that isn’t real life. (We’re) coming out of the worst public health crisis in 100 years. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.” 

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