WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden announced Thursday federal workers will need to “attest” to being vaccinated or wear masks, regardless of COVID-19 community spread where they live.
The unvaccinated employees will also need to comply with weekly or twice weekly testing, and could face travel restrictions. The mandate applies to all federal contractors as well.
It does not apply to the military, though Biden says he’s working with the Department of Defense to add COVID-19 to the required vaccines list.
It becomes the nation’s largest vaccine mandate, affecting millions of workers. The federal government is the largest employer in the country. The U.S. has about 2.18 million civilian employees and 570,000 others work for the U.S. Postal Service, according to 2020 data.
Biden is also calling on all state and local governments to offer $100 to people who get vaccinated going forward, and the Treasury is also offering to help states that participate. Some states have offered lotteries for thousands of dollars, but only a handful have tried direct payments to everyone who rolls up their sleeve.
On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to require vaccinations, for its health workers. And on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed its masking guidelines and said that all Americans living in areas with substantial or high coronavirus transmission rates should wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.
The president will deliver remarks at 4 p.m. You can watch them in the player above.
“He will send a strong message to all Americans – unvaccinated and vaccinated – about the need to stay vigilant in our fight against the virus,” a White House official told Reuters, adding Biden would make clear his administration would provide the resources needed to help stop the Delta variant’s spread and boost vaccinations.
“His remarks will highlight several new measures that his administration will take to accelerate this effort,” the official said.
About 60% of American adults have been fully vaccinated. Biden missed his goal of having 70% of adults get at least one shot by July 4. The latest figure is 69.3%.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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