President Joe Biden announced tighter COVID-19 vaccine requirements for federal workers Thursday. The video above shows clips from Biden’s announcement
In July, President Biden required federal workers to either get the vaccine or be subjected to regular testing and masking protocols. Thursday afternoon, Biden signed a new executive order requiring vaccination for employees of the executive branch, as well as contractors who do business with the federal government. According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, under the executive order there would be no option to test out.
Federal workers and contractors will have 75 days to get fully vaccinated. Those who don’t comply will be referred to their agency’s human resources department for counseling and discipline. This does include possible termination.
Biden’s order does allow workers or contractors to seek religious or medical exemptions.
In addition, Biden was expected to require all workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid be fully vaccinated. He also was set to mandate all employers with more than 100 workers to require those worker be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly. The former would affect 17 million Americans, and the latter would affect 80 million.
“”The bottom line: We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated coworkers,” Biden said. “We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated and businesses all across America.”
The order is just part of a six-pronged Biden Administration plan to address the latest rise in coronavirus cases, as well as the stagnating pace of vaccinations. Psaki said Biden’s “overarching objective here is to reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans,” noting about 80 million adults remain unvaccinated.
Other measures in Biden’s plan include an increase in virus testing in schools in order to keep them open safely.
More than 208 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 177 million are fully vaccinated. However, confirmed cases of the virus have shot up in recent weeks to an average of about 140,000 per day. About 1,000 Americans are dying from the virus daily, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We’re in the tough stretch and it could last for a while,” Biden said. “Highly contagious Delta variant that I began to warn America about back in July, spread late summer like it did in other countries before us.”