President Joe Biden on Thursday, July 25, continued to step up his vaccine push by asking all federal employees and contractors to attest to their vaccination status or otherwise submit to regular COVID-19 tests.
“Every federal government employee will be asked to attest to their vaccination status. Anyone who does not attest or is not vaccinated will be required to mask no matter where they work; test one or two times a week to see if they have a—they have acquired COVID; socially distance; and generally, will not be allowed to travel for work,” Biden said in a speech from the White House.
“Likewise, today, I’m directing my administration to take steps to apply similar standards to all federal contractors. If you want to do business with the federal government, get your workers vaccinated,” he added.
Biden announced the new measures to get more Americans vaccinated as the Delta variant has caused a spike in COVID-19 cases across the United States.
“The Delta variant is different than what we’ve dealt with previously. It’s highly transmissible and causing a new wave of cases. But here’s the good news: we have the power to stop it. Get vaccinated—and let’s defeat this virus once and for all,” he also wrote in a tweet.
In his remarks, Biden also called on “all states and local governments to use funding they have received, including from the American Rescue Plan, to give $100 to anyone who gets fully vaccinated.”
According to The Hill, the White House has previously avoided tipping the scales by endorsing vaccine mandates for employers and other organizations, but Thursday’s announcement represents a sizable shift as they try to convince more people to get vaccinated amid a surge of the Delta variant cases.
Biden on Thursday also encouraged private sector employers to follow his lead.
“I’d like to see them continue to move in that direction, and that’s why I point it out,” Biden said when asked by a reporter, “Why not push for vaccine mandates in states, private companies, schools?”
This week, the Department of Veterans Affairs has become the first public entity to require vaccines for its health care workers.
A number of businesses have opted to mandate vaccines for workers as a condition of returning to in-person work, and several private colleges have done the same for their students, according to The Hill.
The Justice Department issued a legal opinion early this week saying that federal law does not prohibit private or public entities from mandating vaccines.
Many Republican lawmakers have disagreed with Biden’s tactic to try and force Americans to get vaccinated, arguing people should be given the freedom to decide whether to get the vaccines or not.