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Biden to mandate Covid vaccine for federal workers, removes option to get tested

Nurses draw vaccine doses from a vial as Maryland residents receive their second dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at the Cameron Grove Community Center on March 25, 2021 in Bowie, Maryland.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is expected to announce Thursday evening a new requirement for federal employees to receive the coronavirus vaccine, a source familiar with the matter told NBC News.

The executive order will also extend to contractors that work with the U.S. government, impacting a total of 2.1 million employees.

The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the decision will be announced during the president’s address at 5 p.m. EST.

Earlier this year, Biden ordered all federal employees to prove their coronavirus vaccination status or submit to a series of rigorous safety protocols.

Thursday’s order removes the option for rigorous testing, a development that comes as the United States struggles to contain the highly contagious delta variant.

The U.S. is currently averaging more than 151,000 new Covid cases a day, far above the 36,000 cases at this time last year before vaccines were available, according to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 1,500 people are dying a day on average from Covid.

“This is an American tragedy. People are dying, and will die, who don’t have to die,” Biden said during a White House address in July.

“This is not about red states and blue states. It’s literally about life and death,” he said. “With freedom comes responsibility. Your decision to be unvaccinated impacts someone else.”

In July, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it would order its health-care workers to get inoculated, making it the first federal agency to impose such a mandate.

Veteran Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough described the new measure as “the best way to keep Veterans safe.”

A month later, the Food and Drug Administration fully approved Pfizer and BioNTech‘s Covid-19 vaccine, the first in the U.S. to win the coveted designation.

The mRNA vaccine, which will be marketed as Comirnaty, was on the U.S. market under an Emergency Use Authorization that was granted by the FDA in December.

The FDA’s approval was expected to give even more businesses, schools and universities across the country greater confidence to adopt vaccine mandates.

More than 214 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been administered, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 96 million people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated with Pfizer’s two-dose vaccine.

In total, 62% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson – while 53% are fully vaccinated. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are still being administered under emergency use authorizations.

Following the FDA’s approval of Pfizer, the Pentagon updated its health guidance to require all U.S. service members and defense contractors to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report from New York.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Read More: Biden to mandate Covid vaccine for federal workers, removes option to get tested

2021-09-09 10:24:34

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