WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Thursday is toughening COVID-19 vaccine requirements for federal workers and contractors as he aims to boost vaccinations and curb the surgingthat is killing thousands each week and jeopardizing the nation’s economic recovery. Just weeks after he mandated federal workers get a shot or face rigorous testing and masking protocols, Biden will sign a new to require vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government, according to a person familiar with the matter. The word comes ahead of the president’s speech Thursday afternoon outlining a six-pronged plan to address the latest rise in coronavirus cases and the stagnating pace of .
It wasn’t immediately clear if Biden’s order includes exceptions for workers or contractors seeking religious or safety net protections expire.. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to before they were publicly released. Biden is also expected to outline plans to increase virus testing in schools to , amid other measures to show that his administration is working to tackle the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases, which Biden has blamed for last month’s weaker-than-expected jobs report. He’s warned the surge could further imperil the nation’s economy as some pandemic
Biden has encouragedrequirements in settings like schools, workplaces, and university campuses, and the White House hopes the strengthened federal mandate will inspire more businesses to follow suit. The Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services, the Indian Health Service, and the have previously announced vaccine requirements for much of their staff. The Pentagon month to require all service members to get vaccinated.
More than 208 million Americans have, and 177 million are fully vaccinated. Still, confirmed cases of the virus have shot up in recent weeks to an average of about 140,000 per day, with approximately 1,000 Americans dying daily, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of the spread — and the of severe illness and death — occurs among those not yet fully vaccinated against the virus. So-called breakthrough occur but are far less dangerous.
Federal officials are planning to begin administering booster shots of the mRNA vaccines to bolster protection against the more transmissibleof the virus. Last month, plans to make them available beginning on Sept. 20, but only the for a third dose by that time. Federal regulators are seeking additional its booster approval until October. Officials aim to administer the of the two-dose vaccines. Calling all HuffPost superfans! Sign up for membership to and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter.