WH Issues Vaccine And Mask Requirements As Delta Variant Prompts COVID Surge

WASHINGTON, DC May 18, 2021: US President Joe Biden removes his mask as he makes his way to Marine One on the Ellipse of the White House on May 18, 2021. (Photo by Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The White House on Tuesday moved to require vaccinations for all federal employees and contractors, as well as mask mandates for all visitors to the campus regardless of vaccination status as the Delta variant spreads nationwide causing a spike in COVID-19 infections, especially amongst the unvaccinated.

CNN first reported that President Biden will announce on Thursday a requirement for all federal employees and contractors to be inoculated against COVID-19, or be required to submit to regular testing and mitigation requirements.

CNN noted that specifics are still being finalized on the vaccination mandate for federal workers, but would be similar to the vaccination or weekly testing requirements for all city workers in New York City. Additional requirements for the unvaccinated are also under consideration.

The President does not plan to require vaccinations on the U.S. military currently. However, Biden is expected to outline how the Department of Defense may seek to approach the issue, according to CNN.

Biden’s upcoming announcement follows the Department of Veterans Affairs’ requirement for all frontline health care workers to be vaccinated within the next two months.

Earlier Tuesday, the President signaled that a vaccination mandate on federal workers is “under consideration right now.”

Shortly after Biden issued his remarks on Tuesday, the White House instructed all staff, including reporters, to wear masks in all indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status.

“The White House will require all individuals—regardless of vaccination status—to wear a mask at all times when on campus. This policy will become effective at the start of business tomorrow, July 28,” the White House said in an email to staff on Tuesday, according to New York Times reporter Annie Karni.

The White House’s mask and vaccination requirements come on the heels of the CDC’s updated guidance on Tuesday that directed fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in areas of “substantial” and “high” spread of COVID-19.

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