President Biden will reportedly make an announcement on Thursday, requiring all federal employees and contractors to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or present regular testing results, according to some news sources.
The announcement comes as Biden is expected to reveal a series of new measures to encourage vaccinations as the Delta variant spreads across the country.
The Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency on Monday to require vaccination for its 115,000 health care workers. The American Medical Association and 56 other leading medical organizations are now calling for mandatory vaccinations for workers at all health care settings, including nursing homes nationwide.
California will soon require vaccination or negative weekly COVID tests for state and health care workers. New York City will also mandate vaccines or tests for municipal workers, including teachers and health care workers, and urging private employers to require shots.
"It's quite clear the delta variant has changed the game,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D). “We need to move to stronger measures."
"We've got to shake people at this point and say, 'Come on now,'" de Blasio told MSNBC. "We tried voluntary. We could not have been more kind and compassionate. Free testing, everywhere you turn, incentives, friendly, warm embrace. The voluntary phase is over."
In the meantime, Florida’s governor says ordinary people should not be forced or mocked into taking the vaccine.
"They have different reasons for why they don't take it and I think that the more they're hectored by government officials or some of these folks, that is not gonna get them to ‘yes,’ I can tell you that right now,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).
Los Angeles, St. Louis, Savannah and other areas are imposing mask mandates indoors even for the vaccinated. That goes against CDC guidance stating only the unvaccinated should wear masks inside, but that may change.
“It is scary, especially when the numbers are getting worse,” Missouri resident Audrey Thomas said. “I definitely think wearing masks would be a good thing."
The delta variant, which makes up 83% of COVID cases in America, is much more contagious than other strains we've seen before, largely because people infected with it can carry up to 1,000 times more virus. That means people who have no immunity are most vulnerable.
In fact, 99% of US hospitalizations and deaths are unvaccinated.
"I’m worried that it's going to get much, much worse,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health. “Right now, we're generating about 50,000 Americans getting infected. That number could easily double or triple."
Many Americans are responding to the delta danger. Nearly 800,000 got their shot over the weekend, a big jump over previous ones.
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