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Biden orders mandatory Covid vaccines or tests for all federal employees, plus masks for workers and visitors

Biden announced the mask order on Thursday, four days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dramatically reversed its earlier guidance and recommended that vaccinated and unvaccinated people alike mask up indoors in certain areas.

In his announcement, Biden also stated that federal employees who opt not to get vaccinated will be subject to twice-weekly testing, as well as restrictions on official travel. He has also asked the Defense Department to look into mandatory vaccination for members of the military, and said that federal contractors will need to prove their vaccination status to “do business with the federal government.”

Biden pinned the US’ rising number of Covid-19 cases on the “failure of the minority to get vaccinated.”

“It’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” he said, adding that “People are dying who don’t have to die.”

However, the CDC’s new mask guidance was made in light of so-called “breakthrough” infections, or cases of Covid-19 among the vaccinated, as well as unpublished data that CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said this week shows the vaccinated can carry as high a viral load as the unvaccinated.

As part of his push for increased vaccination, Biden called on employers to offer staff paid leave to get inoculated, and on states to offer cash incentives of $100 to anyone still hesitant about the jab. According to CDC data, 69% of eligible Americans have received at least one vaccination dose.

Regarding school reopenings this fall, the president declared that classrooms will reopen, but that all children, regardless of vaccination status, will need to wear masks.

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