"We all know that in our guts with incentives and mandates we can make a huge difference and save a lot of lives," Biden said.
President Biden announcing a new policy for on-site government employees and contractors...show proof of vaccination or submit to regular testing for COVID-19.
“Our experts tell me the cases will go up further before they start to come back down," Biden said.
The decision comes amid lagging vaccination rates and with the spread of the more infectious Delta variant of the virus. State governments, hospital systems and companies are also moving to require vaccinations. Before today the Department of Veterans Affairs was the sole government agency to require vaccination of employees.
The federal government, by far the largest employer in the country with over 4 million employees, is looking to take the lead and encourage more Americans to get vaccinated.
This week Google and Facebook unveiled plans to require employees get a vaccine. And at least 800 hospitals are mandating the shot. The governors of two of the most populous states-- California and New York-- have also proposed policies that would require state workers to get vaccinated or submit to regular testing.
"We're working with our unions to implement this quickly and fairly. But we want to get it done by Labor Day. And I encourage all local governments to do the same," said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
But Biden administration officials have reportedly been careful not to paint the new requirement as a mandate and instead propose it as a way to protect federal workers and noting no one is at risk of losing their job. The President also highlighted a $100 incentive for newly vaccinated Americans.
“Last month a study showed that over 99% of COVID-19 deaths had been among the unvaccinated, 99%. This is an American tragedy. People are dying and will die, who don’t have to die," Biden said.
Biden’s announcement does not include a vaccine requirement for members of the military but the White House is directing the Pentagon to look into a similar requirement for it’s personnel.
White House officials and the President have repeatedly said the pandemic is largely targeting the unvaccinated even amid a concerning rise in “breakthrough” cases among the vaccinated Americans. Still, just half of Americans have been fully vaccinated.
"This way of thinking about there's a vaccinated and an unvaccinated community, we walk amongst each other," said Dr. Gavin Yamey. "Your health is my health and my health is your health. We are interconnected."