WASHINGTON, D.C.: President Joe Biden has announced that millions of federal workers will either need to show proof of having received the coronavirus vaccine or participate in regular testing and maintain a variety of restrictions.
However, Biden will not order federal employees to be vaccinated and no federal employees will lose their jobs if they are not vaccinated.
It is believed that the new policy is a recognition by the Biden administration that workers need to be encouraged to be vaccinated, especially as the Covid variant is increasing new cases and hospitalizations.
"The pandemic we have now is a pandemic of the unvaccinated," Biden said on Wednesday. He urged the unvaccinated to "please, please, please, please" get a shot. A day earlier, he mused that "if those other 100 million people got vaccinated, we'd be in a very different world."
It is not known whether similar requirements will be issued for the military and how federal contractors might be affected.
The administration is announcing the guidelines prior to the return of staff to federal agencies, so officials can plan on putting in place the new requirements before workers return to the office.
Officials said the White House is seeking to provide an example for private companies as they prepare for workers to return this fall.
On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it would require vaccinations for its health workers. And on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said all Americans living in areas with substantial or high coronavirus transmission rates should wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.
Meanwhile, the CDC has warned that Washington D.C. is facing significant increases in the rates of transmission, and reporters and staff again began wearing face masks at the White House.
"Doing more of the same just will not work," said Dr. Leana Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner, as reported by the Associated Press.
"This is the logical next step. If you want to be going in to work and interacting with other people, then you have to be sure you wouldn't have COVID, and you can do that either by getting vaccinated or by testing."