Biden says he won’t talk COVID vaccine mandates in PA but will Thursday

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Biden says he won't talk COVID vaccine mandates in PA but will Thursday

President Biden on Wednesday declined to confirm reports that he’s planning to impose a broad COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal workers — saying he won’t talk about it until Thursday.

Reporters shouted questions to Biden about possible mandates, including for military members, after he disembarked Air Force One in Allentown, Pa., for a trip to promote US manufacturing.

“I’m talking about ‘made in America’ today. That’s all I’m going to talk about. Tomorrow I’ll talk about whatever you want to talk about, including COVID,” Biden shouted across the tarmac.

Biden said Tuesday afternoon after a speech to intelligence agency employees that he’s considering a vaccine mandate for federal workers.

A nurse fills a syringe with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine
Reporters pressed Biden about the potential federal mandate but he declined to answer.
Mary Altaffer, File/AP

“It’s under consideration right now, but if you’re not vaccinated, you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were,” Biden said in Virginia.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Biden is poised to announced Thursday that all federal workers get a COVID-19 vaccine or submit themselves to regular testing.

The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday became the first agency to impose a vaccine mandate on workers.

A federal vaccine mandate would follow new CDC guidance Tuesday that said local officials should re-impose indoor mask mandates, even for vaccinated people, in areas where there’s high rates of COVID-19 transmission.

The more contagious Delta variant of the virus has caused an uptick in US infections after months of declining cases due to widespread vaccination.

U.S. President Joe Biden is accompanied by Mack Trucks President Martin Weissburg as he visits the Mack-Lehigh Valley Operations Manufacturing Facility in Macungie, Pensylvania
President Biden was in Allentown, Pa. to speak about American manufacturing.
Evelyn Hockstein/REUTERS

According to CDC data, more than 69 percent of US adults have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot and more than 60 percent are fully vaccinated. Some regions of the country have lower rates of vaccination, helping fuel the resurgence of infections.

A decision to impose vaccines on federal workers is likely to draw pushback from politicians who advocate individual choice on whether to take vaccines or wear a mask.

In DC, Democratic federal officials — including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris — have zealously re-adopted indoor mask mandates, even though the local DC government has not done so.

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