Two months after President Joe Biden‘s speech celebrating independence from COVID-19, his administration made a U-turn on vaccine mandates to confront surging infection rates and hospitalizations.
Biden issued a mandate on Thursday requiring all federal employees to be vaccinated in the coming months or risk possibly losing their jobs. His administration will also require federal contractors to ensure their employees are vaccinated. The mandate affects some 100 million Americans, according to the Associated Press.
The move was a reversal of the administration’s previous stance. Biden’s Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, was asked in July whether the federal government should step in and issue vaccine mandates. Psaki said such mandates were “not the role of the federal government.”
“Well, I think the question here — one, that’s not the role of the federal government; that is the role that institutions, private-sector entities, and others may take,” she said. “That certainly is appropriate. Also, local communities are going to take steps they need to take in order to protect people in their communities.”
On July 4, Biden delivered a speech “celebrating Independence Day and independence from COVID-19.” Psaki argued on Thursday that the declaration was “not premature,” pointing at unvaccinated Americans as the cause of the current situation.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in late July that there would be no nationwide mandate for Americans to get a COVID-19 vaccine. She didn’t mention the possibility of the government issuing mandates for federal employees and federal contractors across the nation.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.