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White House: National vaccine mandate not under consideration 'at this time'

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The White House is downplaying President Joe Biden stoking speculation that his administration was open to a national mandate for coronavirus vaccines.

Biden this week said it was "still a question" as to whether the federal government could make COVID-19 vaccines compulsory for "the whole country." One day later, top spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters to reread his statement in its full context before jumping to conclusions.

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"A national vaccine requirement is not under consideration at this time," she said Friday. "I don't have any more to add."

Biden had earlier instructed the Justice Department to advise him on whether he has the authority to mandate the vaccine for the federal workforce. After receiving the department's approval, he announced that federal employees and on-site contractors would have to "attest" to their status or wear masks, physically distance from their colleagues, be tested once or twice a week, and be restricted regarding travel.

Jean-Pierre also used Friday's briefing to clarify the confusion she created concerning whether the White House would support reimposing lockdowns as the delta variant of the coronavirus spreads among vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

"We have the tools in our tool belt to fight this variant, to fight this vaccine, and we are not going to head towards a lockdown," she said, misspeaking.

During her Thursday briefing, Jean-Pierre told reporters that the administration would "listen to the scientists."

"This is a public health situation. This is not about politics at all," she said. "This is about saving lives. And this is what the president is all about."

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week updated its mask guidance to recommend face coverings for people in areas with high or substantial spread while in indoor public spaces. The decision was made after 882 cases were linked to Provincetown, Massachusetts, over the July Fourth weekend. Almost 75% of the infections were reported among vaccinated people.

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Tags: News, Healthcare, Biden Administration, Joe Biden, White House, Karine Jean-Pierre, Coronavirus, Vaccination, Delta Varient

Original Author: Naomi Lim

Original Location: White House: National vaccine mandate not under consideration 'at this time'

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