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Biden announces COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all federal employees, asks Pentagon to 'look into' approving mandate for military

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President Joe Biden behind a podium.
President Joe Biden. Susan Walsh/Associated Press
  • Federal employees must be fully vaccinated or be tested regularly for COVID-19 and wear a mask, President Biden said Thursday.

  • This latest mandate will impact the nation's roughly 2 million federal workers and 2 million in the military.

  • The US is battling an increase in coronavirus cases fueled by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that all federal employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested regularly for the infectious disease and wear a mask. He also said that the federal government will reimburse employers who give their employees paid time off to get themselves and their family members vaccinated against COVID-19

The White House additionally asked the Pentagon to look into "how and when they will add COVID-19 vaccination to the list of required vaccinations for members of the military," according to a White House statement released before Biden's speech Thursday evening.

The president also addressed whether Americans need to get a booster shot amid the nationwide spike in COVID-19 cases.

"As of now, my medical advisors say the answer is no," he said. "No American needs a booster now. But if science tells us there's a need for boosters, then that's something we'll do."

He went on to urge unvaccinated Americans to get their shots, saying, "What's happening in America right now ... is a pandemic of the unvaccinated."

"The vaccines are safe [and] highly effective. There's nothing political about them," he said, adding: "This is not about red states and blue states. This is about life and death."

This latest mandate will impact the nation's roughly 2 million federal workers and 2 million members of the armed forces, according to the White House statement.

"You want to know how we put this virus behind us?" Biden said Thursday. "We need to get more people vaccinated."

The president also said all public schools should reopen in the fall.

By law, the US military can't mandate a vaccine that hasn't been fully approved by the FDA. The FDA has only granted emergency authorization use for the current COVID-19 vaccines.

Biden said earlier this week that he was mulling whether to enact a vaccine mandate for the entire federal workforce as the US battles an increase in coronavirus cases fueled by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

The new mandate comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the Golden State will soon require state employees and all healthcare workers to provide proof of inoculation or get tested at least once a week.

New York is also requiring workers to get tested, with Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing that all state employees will need to be vaccinated or get tested weekly. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced that the entire city workforce - some 340,000 people - will be required by mid-September to get vaccinated or be tested weekly.

Read more: Vaccine mandates are coming, and it's about time

The US Department of Veterans Affairs also announced that it will require its healthcare employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, becoming the first federal agency to do so.

Coronavirus cases are again surging across the nation - largely among those who are unvaccinated.

In order to combat the virus' spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance on Wednesday and recommended that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear face masks indoors in areas where coronavirus transmission is high.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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