President Joe Biden will seek to ramp up pressure on the unvaccinated on Thursday by announcing additional federal vaccine mandates, calling for the private sector to do the same, and pushing for increased testing in schools as the season he billed as a “summer of freedom” ends with thousands of unvaccinated American citizens dying from covid-19 every week.
Biden is expected to sign an executive order requiring all federal executive branch workers to be vaccinated, and a second executive order that says that standard should be extended to employees of contractors that do business with the federal government, according to a person familiar with the plans. The Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Indian Health Service, and the National Institutes of Health have already said they will require vaccinations for their 2.5 million employees.
Biden had given federal workers the choice of undergoing regular testing instead of getting vaccinated, but that testing opt-out will no longer be an option.
White House officials said Biden is also expected to continue encouraging employers and local governments to put vaccine mandates in place along with mask requirements and discuss efforts to get boosters to those who are vaccinated, an effort the administration plans to start Sept. 20.
“He’s going to build on our mandates requirements, making it so that workers in the federal government or others have to get vaccinated, we’ve seen that work,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday on MSNBC.
“We can’t declare with a magic wand from the federal government that every person has to be vaccinated. School districts can do that, leaders and states can push their school districts to do that. That’s important, companies can do that and make those requirements for their employees,” she said. “That’s something some larger companies have done, and that’s a model. So those are all pieces the president will talk about today.”