President Joe Biden announced Thursday that federal workers will have to provide proof of vaccination or comply with a series of restrictive rules.
In detail: Federal workers will be required to show that they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus or follow a set of rules that include mandatory masking, practicing a recommended social distance, weekly testing, and more.
The Biden administration hopes that the measures would increase vaccination rates.
What he said: “Right now, too many people are dying or watching someone they love die and say if ‘I’d just got the vaccine,’” Biden said in the East Room of the White House. “This is an American tragedy. People are dying who don’t have to die.”
“This is not about red states and blue states. It’s literally about life and death. With freedom comes responsibility. Your decision to be unvaccinated impacts someone else,” he added.
Biden also said that the unvaccinated “get sick and fill up our hospitals” and that they “present a problem to yourself, to your family and those with whom you work.”
In a message for the vaccinated, the president said: “I know this is hard to hear. I know it’s frustrating. I know it’s exhausting to think we’re still in this fight. I know we hoped this would be a simple straightforward line, without problems or new challenges. But that isn’t real life.”
The White House separately issued a statement, explaining that the new rules were introduced because of a surge in cases of the delta variant.
“Anyone who does not attest to being fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask on the job no matter their geographic location, physically distance from all other employees and visitors, comply with a weekly or twice weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel,” the White House said in the fact sheet.
Worth noting: The White House noted that Biden wants to enforce these rules with all federal contractors and is seeking to set an example for the private sector.
Meanwhile, the president would instruct the Defense Department to investigate his legal authority to introduce a vaccine mandate for military members.
“As a large employer, the largest in this country, who cares about individuals who keep the government running, we have an obligation to be good stewards of the work force and ensure their health and their safety,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Thursday.
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