President Joe Biden is planning to announce a vaccine mandate for all federal workers and contractors working with the US government, requiring them to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in order to continue work, a requirement that will effect roughly 2.5 million Americans.
Multiple news outlets reported that the measure will be part of the president’s announcement set to take place Thursday afternoon, when Mr Biden plans to address the nation on the Covid-19 pandemic and his administration’s response amid the Delta variant surge. The outlets cited a “source familiar” with the president’s decisions.
The Independent has reached out to the White House for confirmation of the president’s plan.
The White House previously announced in late July that federal workers and contractors could continue working if they were unvaccinated only by submitting to mandatory, regular Covid-19 tests. The new measure is even stricter, and likely to bring the White House into conflict with Republicans, particularly at the local level, many of whom have joined in spreading misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines and others who insist that the government does not have the power to enforce public health measures to save lives.
The White House’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the president’s polling numbers in recent weeks and nationwide approval of the president’s management of the pandemic response has dropped by double digits since June.
Mr Biden’s administration has doubled and tripled down on the importance of getting every American vaccinated against the disease while the spread of the Delta variant is wreaking havoc across the country, particularly in areas where vaccination rates remain low. Hospital systems in many parts of the country and the South in particular are stressed to capacity amid a new wave of hospitalizations from the disease that has returned in full force to areas that have relaxed Covid-19 public health guidelines.
“If in fact you are unvaccinated, you present a problem to yourself, to your family and those with whom you work,” Mr Biden said in July.