Biden to Order Federal Workers to Get Vaccinated 

U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday is planning to order 2.5 million federal workers and contractors to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as part of a new effort to control the infectious disease. 
 
The new order, which eliminates an option he previously gave the workers to get regularly tested for the virus in lieu of being inoculated, is part of a six-point plan Biden is laying out in a White House address to combat the surge in recent weeks of delta variant coronavirus cases and deaths. 
 
Aides said the U.S. leader will spell out new efforts to convince the unvaccinated to get inoculated, protecting those already vaccinated with booster shots in coming weeks, keeping schools open, increasing testing and requiring face masks in some situations, advancing the economic recovery and improving care for those who have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. 
 
With the mandate for federal worker vaccinations, the White House is hoping businesses across the U.S. will follow suit. Some major companies are already requiring their workers to get vaccinated or be fired. 
 
It was not immediately clear if Biden’s order covering federal workers and contractors would allow for exceptions for those seeking religious or medical exemptions from vaccination. 
 
The latest surge in U.S. coronavirus cases and deaths is mostly among the unvaccinated, although there have been some breakthrough infections among those who were vaccinated months ago. FILE – In this Aug. 17, 2021, photo, an ICU nurse moves electrical cords for medical machines outside the room of a COVID-19 patient in an intensive care unit at the Willis-Knighton Medical Center in Shreveport, La. 
More than 177 million people out of the country’s population of 332 million have been vaccinated, but vaccines have yet to be approved by federal health regulators for children under 12 years old.  
 
More than 62% of the population 12 and older has been vaccinated, but about 150,000 new cases are being recorded each day in recent weeks and about 1,000 people a day are dying.  
 
For a variety of reasons — such as a belief they won’t catch the virus or a contention that no one should be able to demand they get inoculated — millions of Americans remain unvaccinated. 
 
Some state governors, mostly conservative Republicans, have urged their citizens to get vaccinated, but they balked at mandating the inoculations or requiring face masks in schools or at workplaces. That has led to numerous political and legal disputes, with some courts siding with local officials wanting to impose coronavirus rules opposed by governors in their states. Nicole Tschabourian, 8, (L) and Leah Yousefi, 8, arrive with printed barcodes for the first day of school and return to full-time in-person learning after the COVID-19 break in Glendale, Los Angeles, California, Aug. 18, 2021. 
The spike in Americans who have not been vaccinated includes an increasing number of young children who are not yet eligible to receive a vaccine.   
 
The American Academy of Pediatrics said cases among children soared to 750,000 between August 5 and September 2.  
 
The latest surge has pushed hospitals and health care workers across the U.S. to a breaking point, with some intensive care units filled to capacity with COVID-19 patients.  
The U.S. economy, the world’s largest, has advanced sharply since the worst of the pandemic 18 months ago, but the number of new jobs in the country slowed markedly in August, which Biden blamed on the surge in new coronavirus cases. 
 Some material in this report came from The Associated Press.  


       SJ

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