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Politics: Biden administration considers COVID vaccine mandate for all federal employees

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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said Tuesday his administration is considering requiring all federal workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine shots amid a surge in coronavirus cases caused by the highly infectious delta variant.

“That’s under consideration right now,” Biden told reporters. “But if you’re not vaccinated, you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were.”

Biden’s remarks came as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with high transmission as COVID-19 cases continue to rise and vaccination rates wane.

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CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said new data shows the delta variant, which accounts for more than 80% of the new infections in the U.S., behaves "uniquely differently'' from its predecessors and could make vaccinated people infectious.

a hand holding a cellphone: COVID-19 vaccine in Jackson, Miss. on Jan. 12, 2021. © Rogelio V. Solis, AP COVID-19 vaccine in Jackson, Miss. on Jan. 12, 2021.

After the CDC announcement, the White House reinstated a policy requiring all its employees to wear masks regardless of their vaccination statue, a White House official confirmed to USA TODAY.

The move followed a surge in the District of Columbia’s case rate to a seven-day average of 52 cases per 100,000 citizens, meeting the CDC definition for “substantial” spread. The White House Correspondents Association is also again requiring all reporters to wear masks at the White House.

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Video: Biden: Federal workforce vaccine mandate under consideration (The Washington Post)

On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs also announced it will require its health care professionals to be vaccinated within the next two months as coronavirus infections have more than doubled in the past month at its medical facilities.

VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement that mandating vaccines is “the best way to keep veterans safe, especially as the delta variant spreads across the country.”

At a White House briefing on Tuesday, press secretary Jen Psaki suggested other federal agencies could follow the VA’s vaccine mandate, which she said “is really about public health and about protecting the patients, the men and women who have served our country.”

“We are going to continue to look at ways to protect our workforce and to save more lives,” Psaki said.

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Asked if other federal agencies would mandate their employees get the vaccine, Psaki said, “I think a range of agencies and leaders will look at what steps they should take to protect our workforce and save lives.”

Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.

Contributing: Donovan Slack, Joseph Garrison

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden administration considers COVID vaccine mandate for all federal employees

Republicans not done fighting Biden vaccine mandate .
A fight to block the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates is far from over in the Senate even though lawmakers voted against a measure that would have stopped the mandate. © Provided by Washington Examiner Senate Democrats late Thursday blocked a measure authored by Republican Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas that would have prohibited federal funding from being used to implement or enforce vaccine mandates. The measure failed 50-48.

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