Biden cranks up vaccine pressure
Calling increasing cases of the delta variant “the pandemic of the unvaccinated,” President Joe Biden announced new mandates for federal employees on Thursday. Roughly 4 million federal personnel and visitors across the country must offer proof of vaccination or submit to COVID-19 testing, mask-wearing, and social distancing. The plan did not mention religious or medical exceptions. The mandate is not expected to apply to the military, but Biden directed the Defense Department to explore adding the coronavirus vaccine to its list of required immunizations. The White House aims to pressure the private sector to institute mandates.
How are employees responding? Federal unions for the most part do not support the requirements. The Federal Law Officers Association and American Postal Workers Union said mandates should be individually negotiated with union leaders. The left-leaning American Federation of Teachers typically sides with the president, but not now. A spokesperson agreed employers should consider mandates on a case-by-case basis. The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, representing NASA and the Defense Department, called the rules a welcome resource to keep employees safe. A Gartner study suggested fewer than 10 percent of employers intend to require coronavirus vaccination.
Dig deeper: Read John Dawson’s explanation of the delta variant in Beginnings.
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