The president of the United States, Joe Biden, announced on Thursday that he will force all civil workers in his government to demonstrate that they are vaccinated if they do not want to undergo weekly tests and did not rule out that he could impose a vaccination mandate at the national level in the future .
Biden’s announcement – which also includes a request to impose the mandatory vaccine for the country’s military – coincides with a worrying increase in COVID-19 cases linked to the advance of the delta variant in the United States. This rally is forcing a reversal of some reopening measures. “We are going to ask all federal government employees to prove their immunization status,” Biden said during a speech at the White House.
People who do not show that proof must wear a mask to work and undergo COVID-19 tests weekly or even twice a week, in addition to maintaining physical distances and being prohibited from participating in official trips, the president explained.
The measure will apply to the more than 4 million federal workers in the United States and the rest of the world and similar standards will be implemented for all Administration contractors, according to the White House. “If you want to do business with the federal government, vaccinate your workers,” Biden said.
The announcement represents an attempt by the president to make the most of his authority when it comes to promoting the vaccination campaign in the United States, which has slowed significantly in the last two months, with just 49% of the population inoculated with the full scheme. .
As president, Biden can unilaterally impose a mandate on government workers, but until now, the White House had ensured that it did not legally have the power to do the same to force all Americans to get vaccinated.
However, the president left the door open to the possibility of finding a way to impose that mandate at the national level. “The question is whether the federal government can order it to the whole country. I still don’t know,” said the president in response to a journalist’s question.
For now, the president indicated that states, localities and businesses do have the power, according to the Justice Department, to impose vaccination orders in their jurisdictions and said he “would like” to see that happen more and more.
Although the idea of compelling vaccination is highly controversial in a country like the United States, where individual freedom is highly valued, more and more companies are considering the idea.
This week, companies like Google, Facebook, and Lyft demanded that all workers who return to their offices are vaccinated and the White House is confident that Biden’s announced mandate for federal employees will inspire more companies to follow suit.
It’s unclear how many U.S. government workers are already vaccinated, but Biden’s announcement drew criticism from some sectors of the federal staff, including the Postal Service Employees Union and an association of law enforcement and security officers.
In addition, Biden proposed that states, territories and localities offer a reward of $ 100 to those who get vaccinated, taking advantage of the funds contained in the rescue package approved by the Government.
An initiative that, for example, was already adopted this Wednesday by the city of New York, which give the 100 dollars in cash to any resident who goes to a municipal center to get the first dose of the vaccine.
Biden insisted, however, on the need to take measures like this, given the expansion of the delta variant, which already represents at least 83% of sequenced cases in the US and has generated a notable increase in infections and hospitalizations in the last weeks. “This is an American tragedy. People are dying who would not have to die, and they will continue to die,” the president lamented.