“This is an American tragedy. People are dying — and will die — who don’t have to die. If you’re out there unvaccinated, you don’t have to die,” Biden said during remarks at the White House. “Read the news. You’ll see stories of unvaccinated patients in hospitals, as they’re lying in bed dying from Covid-19, they’re asking, ‘Doc, can I get the vaccine?’ The doctors have to say, ‘Sorry, it’s too late.'”
In his sternest approach yet to pushing Americans to get vaccinated, the President bluntly argued that if you are unvaccinated, “You present a problem to yourself, to your family and to those with whom you work.”
Biden said every federal government employee and on-site contractor will be asked to attest to their vaccination status.
Employees who have not been vaccinated “will be required to wear a mask on the job no matter their geographic location, 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 White House said ahead of Biden’s speech.
But the decision nonetheless marks a pivot away from encouraging Americans to get vaccinated in their own time and stepping toward placing the onus on unvaccinated individuals.
Other efforts the administration debuted Thursday to incentivize vaccinations included expanding paid leave for employees who take time off to get themselves and their family members vaccinated. Biden said employers would be reimbursed. He also called on states, territories, and local governments to do more to incentivize vaccination, including offering $100 to Americans getting vaccinated, paid for with American Rescue Plan funding.
“I know that paying people to get vaccinated might sound unfair to folks who got vaccinated already. But here’s the deal: if incentives help us beat this virus, I believe we should use them. We all benefit,” Biden said.
The President also announced that he is ordering the Department of Defense “to look into how and when they will add Covid-19 to the list of vaccinations our Armed Forces must get.”
“Our men and women in uniform, who protect this country from grave threats, should be protected as much as possible from getting Covid-19,” he said. “I think this is particularly important because our troops serve in places throughout the world, many where vaccination rates are low and disease is prevalent,” Biden added.
All military and civilian Defense Department personnel will be asked to attest to their vaccination status, the department said Thursday evening. Those unable or unwilling to do so will “be required to wear a mask, physically distance, comply with a regular testing requirement and be subject to official travel restrictions,” Jamal Brown, deputy Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement.
The department is also considering adding the Covid vaccine to the list of required vaccines for military personnel.
“Secretary (of Defense Lloyd) Austin will begin consulting our…