Biden tells states to offer $100 vaccination kickbacks and tells military ‘investigations into’ mandatory jabs
President Joe Biden announced a series of new measures designed to increase vaccination coverage in the federal workforce and across the country — as the Delta variant increases hospitalizations and threatens the country’s economic recovery.
‘Do you want to know how we left this virus behind? I’ll tell you how: we’re getting more people vaccinated,” Biden said at the White House on Thursday.
He called on Americans to get their injections, for those on a first dose to follow, and for people to follow evolving government guidelines for masks.
Biden called the state of affairs an “unvaccinated pandemic,” a term his administration defended earlier Thursday.
“In fact, virtually all hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated,” Biden said.
“This is an American tragedy. People die and will die who don’t have to die,” he said.
Biden spoke directly to the camera in the East Room of the White House after a press secretary dodged substantive questions about his plans, pleaded with Americans to continue and spoke to the high stakes.
“Right now too many people are dying or watching too many people they love to see die and say: if only I could get vaccinated.”
With a significant contingent of Americans still refusing to be vaccinated, despite the vast majority of covid hospitalizations being for those who have avoided the vaccine, Biden is requiring federal employees to either testify that they received a shot or submit to tests.
He’s formally making efforts by states and places to essentially pay people to get the free, potentially life-saving photo with $100 prizes. And he will order the Pentagon to “explore how and when” they will add COVID-19, they will add it to the list of required vaccines for the military.
‘We are now dealing with a much more transmissible strain of this virus: the Delta variant. The good news is that we are prepared for this. We know how to stop it: get more people vaccinated,” the White House said in a fact sheet about the latest approach.
The Federal Employee Policy will also apply to federal contractors.
“Anyone who does not confirm that they have been fully vaccinated must wear a mask at work regardless of their geographic location, physical distance from all other employees and visitors, meet a weekly or biweekly screening test requirement and be subject to restrictions on official travel,” said the White House.
The language on the military implies less than a direct command – but also gives a clear indication of what the commander in chief is.
Today, the president will announce that he is directing the Department of Defense to investigate how and when they will add COVID-19 vaccination to the list of required immunizations for members of the military. This is especially important as our troops serve all over the world – many where vaccination rates are low and diseases are common.”
Biden will also “call on” states and places to pay people to get the injection, as a way to raise rates.
Today, the president will call on states, territories and local governments to do more to boost vaccination, including offering $100 to those who get vaccinated. During the US vaccination efforts we have seen that financial incentives are a motivating factor for some people to get vaccinated.’ The fact sheet notes that supermarket chain Kroger saw employee vaccination rates rise when it offered $100 checks, with rates jumping from 50 percent to 75 percent.
The president also called on people to embrace the latest CDC guidelines about wearing masks.
“I hope that all Americans living in areas with substantial or high cases will follow the mask guidelines set by the CDC. I certainly will, because this is one of those areas in Washington,” he said.
Biden launches a tough new approach to the COVID pandemic with a speech in which he plans to pitch the vaccine requirement for federal employees and call on the unvaccinated to do their part to contain the pandemic.
President Joe Biden will launch a tough new approach to the COVID pandemic in a speech on Thursday
In a speech at the White House, Biden will announce a directive requiring the federal government’s 2 million employees to show that they are vaccinated or undergo weekly tests.
It won’t be a mandate that the White House has said it won’t issue, but it will be a first step toward mandating vaccinations at a small level.
Biden has opposed any talk of vaccine requirements for the nation, but he does control the federal government, one of the largest employers in the nation.
The White House is keeping close to the details of Biden’s speech on Thursday as it finalizes the guideline amid mounting COVID cases linked to the highly contagious Delta strain.
Karine Jean-Pierre, deputy White House press secretary, would not tell reporters until Wednesday that the government is considering options for federal employees, such as “confirming vaccination status or adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols, such as making mandatory wearing a mask’.
The directive will be given in stricter terms than Biden has used before, a White House official said CNN of the president’s speech, a sign of Biden’s growing impatience with those who refuse to be vaccinated.
The goal is to make being unvaccinated such a burden that those who didn’t get their vaccine have little choice but to get one.
Some vaccine requirements have begun.
The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday ordered the majority of its health workers to be vaccinated.
The Defense Department is exempt from Thursday’s announcement because it cannot legally require troops to receive the vaccine until the Food and Drug Administration has given its final approval for the drugs. The COVID vaccines are now approved under an emergency use authorization.
In addition, the White House supports new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on mask requirements. The CDC urged fully vaccinated individuals to “wear a mask in indoor public settings if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.”
The agency said 63.4 percent of counties now had levels high enough to warrant indoor masking.
The White House and several other government agencies — including the Pentagon and the State Department — have issued notices mandating masks indoors.
In the past month, the average number of new daily cases across the country rose by 376 percent, from 11,887 on June 26 to 56,635 on July 26.
Currently, about 56 percent of Americans have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and half of the country is fully vaccinated.
That means more than 40 percent of Americans and 30 percent of adults have not been vaccinated at all.
Biden has expressed frustration at people’s refusal to get a COVID vaccine.
“If you haven’t been vaccinated, you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were,” he said Tuesday.
And the change in the way the administration is handling the pandemic is going to be remarkable.
Three months ago, Biden stated in the White House Rose Garden, “Once you’re fully vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask anymore. It’s been vaxxed or masked.’
On July 4, the president declared the country’s “independence” from the virus when he hosted a huge party on the South Lawn of the White House.
But rising COVID cases due to the Delta variant and the refusal of much of the population to be vaccinated have reversed the administration’s strategy.
On Tuesday, the CDC reversed its mask guidelines and made them mandatory for those fully vaccinated in areas with a high infection rate.
“This is not a decision the CDC has taken lightly… this weighs heavily on me and all of America,” Rochelle Walensky, CDC director, said at a news conference.
She also warned that with rampant spread, only a few mutations are needed for the virus to completely bypass vaccines.
Some critics are beginning to question whether the government has moved too fast in lifting the mask guidelines.
“Psychologically, it’s much harder to make people run up the hill once than it is to make them roll down the hill and have to go up the hill a second time,” Democratic strategist David Axelrod said. The Washington Post. Americans, he said, will be “grumpy” that they have to wear masks again.
The White House blames the Delta variant for the shift.
“We are dealing with a very different strain of this virus than even earlier in the spring, in May, when the masking guidelines were implemented,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
Officials are also calling it a pandemic of the “unvaccinated.”
“We have a pandemic because of the unvaccinated and they are creating enormous confusion,” Biden said. “If those other 100 million people were vaccinated, we’d be in a very different world.”