President Joe Biden on Thursday announced new measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the new Delta variant in the United States that will impact millions of federal workers, contractors and private citizens.
The White House is battling a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, and anti-vaccine messages and misinformation that have put the U.S. vaccination rate behind other rich nations, despite a prevalence of plentiful, free, vaccines.
Federal worker rules
All civilian federal workers and onsite contractors have to attest they have been fully vaccinated or they will be required to wear a mask on the job, physically distance from all other employees and visitors, comply with a weekly or twice weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel.
The requirements apply to some 2.1 million federal employees, and millions more who work on federal contracts, but do not apply to the estimated 650,000 permanent and temporary U.S. Postal Service employees. A 2017 study said the U.S. government had 3.7 million contractors but it is not clear how many are on site in federal buildings.
Jabs or tests for visitors
Biden’s policy says many visitors to federal buildings or those attending federally sponsored conferences must attest they have been vaccinated or show they have received a negative COVID-19 test within the last three days.
Biden said the Defense Department will also review “how and when they will add the COVID-19 vaccination to the list of required vaccinations for members of the military.”
The U.S. military has 1.3 million enlisted personnel and officers and more than 700,000 civilian members.
Paid time off
Biden said federal workers will get paid time off to get vaccinated or to accompany children being vaccinated and will get time off to recover from the effects of a vaccine shot.
Small- and medium-sized businesses will be reimbursed for offering employees paid leave to get family members, including children, vaccinated.
$100 to get a shot
Biden called on state and local governments to offer $100 to get vaccinated, a step New York City has already taken. They can use federal funds to pay for the incentives, the U.S. Treasury said.
Clinics for students
Biden wants school districts nationwide to host at least one pop-up vaccination clinic over the coming weeks to get students vaccinated.