Biden tells federal workers: Get vaccinated or submit to testing

President Biden on Thursday is directing all federal employees and onsite contractors to show that they are vaccinated or otherwise submit to regular coronavirus testing, a major step that will likely cause private-sector businesses to follow suit.

Biden is instructing his administration to apply similar standards to all federal government contractors.

“If you want to do business with the fed government, get your workers vaccinated,” Biden said in remarks from the White House Thursday afternoon.

The shift: The White House had previously tried to avoid tipping the scales by endorsing vaccine mandates for employers and other organizations. Thursday’s announcement represents a sizable shift as the White House tries to convince more people to get vaccinated as COVID-19 cases rise due to the spread of the delta variant.

Another step: Biden calls on states to offer $100 vaccine incentives

President Biden on Thursday called on state and local governments to use funds from his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan to offer $100 payments to individuals in order to incentivize coronavirus vaccinations.

The payments would be offered to newly vaccinated Americans to provide “an extra incentive to boost vaccination rates, protect communities, and save lives,” the Treasury Department said in an announcement Thursday afternoon.

“Treasury stands ready to give technical assistance to state and local governments so that they may use the funds effectively to support increased vaccination in their communities, and Treasury will partner with the Department of Health and Human Services throughout this effort,” it said.

Biden formally announced the new incentive plan during an address on the coronavirus at the White House.

“I know that paying people to get vaccinated might sound unfair to folks that have gotten vaccinated already but here’s the deal: if incentives help us beat this virus, I believe we should use them,” he said. “We all benefit if we can get more people vaccinated.”