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Biden pushes cash reward to get vaccinated, new rules for federal workers

CoronavirusJul 29, 2021 11:56PM ET
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3/3 © Reuters. A pedestrian walks past an ad encouraging those eligible to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine appointments in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 29, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs 2/3

By Steve Holland, Jeff Mason and David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden on Thursday urged local governments to pay people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and set new rules requiring federal workers to provide proof of vaccination or face regular testing, mask mandates and travel restrictions.

The measures are Biden's latest attempt to spur reluctant Americans to get vaccinated as the Delta variant of the coronavirus surges nationwide, infecting unvaccinated people in particular.

The United States lags other developed countries in vaccination rates, despite having plenty of free vaccines on hand. White House efforts to urge the hesitant to get vaccinated have hit a wall of anti-vaccine sentiment, misinformation, and political division.

Biden's decision to require millions of federal workers and contractors to show proof of vaccination is a departure from a previous opposition to so-called vaccine passports. It shows the White House taking a tougher stance towards circumstances within Biden's control as the virus spreads.

"Right now too many people are dying or watching someone they love," dying, Biden told reporters at the White House.

"With freedom comes responsibility. So please exercise responsible judgment. Get vaccinated for yourself, the people you love, for your country."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 163.8 million people in the United States are fully vaccinated out of a population of some 330 million.

The federal government is the largest employer in the United States and Biden's move could serve as an example for private businesses and other institutions to follow as they assess getting workers back into offices and work places.

Government employees who do not show they have been vaccinated will be subject to weekly or twice-weekly COVID-19 tests and restrictions on official travel.

The United States has about 2.18 million civilian employees and 570,000 other U.S. Postal Service (USPS) workers, according to 2020 data. The U.S. government employed 3.7 million contract employees as of 2017, a New York University study found. Postal workers are not affected by the new rules.

Biden also directed the Defense Department to look into "how and when" it will require members of the military to take the vaccine.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, while traveling in Southeast Asia, said he would consult with his medical advisers and other senior military leaders and come up with a plan for the way ahead.

Austin did not give a timeline on how long it would take to look into the issue but he said the military would move as fast as possible.

Meanwhile state, local and U.S. territorial governments will be able to dip into $350 billion in coronavirus aid to provide $100 payments for every newly vaccinated American to boost COVID-19 inoculation rates, the U.S. Treasury Department said.

"I know that paying people to get vaccinated might sound unfair to folks who have gotten vaccinated already. But here's the deal: if incentives help us beat this virus, I believe we should use them," Biden said.

OPENING SCHOOLS

Biden's pandemic strategy is coming under scrutiny https://www.reuters.com/world/us/bidens-covid-19-strategy-thwarted-by-anti-vaxxers-delta-variant-2021-07-29 as the Delta variant spreads and many Americans resist taking the vaccine.

Growing outbreaks could have an impact on the strong economic recovery. The U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 6.5 percent in the last quarter, the government said on Thursday.

Another issue is how the surge in infections affects efforts to get children back into schools in the fall.

"We can and we must open schools this fall, full time," Biden said. "We can't afford another year out of the classroom."

Biden pressed school districts to hold at least one "pop-up vaccination clinic" in the coming weeks to get children aged 12 and older vaccinated.

The White House also said small- and medium-sized businesses will be reimbursed for offering their workers paid time off to get children and other family members vaccinated.

The National Treasury Employees Union, which has 150,000 federal employees in 34 departments and agencies, said it encouraged its members to get vaccinated but had questions about how the new rules Biden laid out would be implemented.

"We will work to ensure employees are treated fairly and this protocol does not create an undue burden on them," the union's president, Tony Reardon, said in a statement.

The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, which has 90,000 members including some 30,000 NASA engineers and other skilled federal workers, said it supported a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal workers.

"We don’t want any more of our members dying," the union's president, Paul Shearon, said in a statement.

Biden pushes cash reward to get vaccinated, new rules for federal workers
 

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Comments (14)
Investing Man
Investing Man Jul 31, 2021 3:23PM ET
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I could imagine someone showing up with a cure during the plague and republicans yelling “witch! Burn them alive!”
Rick Baier
Rick Baier Jul 30, 2021 12:26AM ET
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Move how the tolerant left for 59 plus years scream my body my right. Now crickets. Hypocrisy on display.
Investing Man
Investing Man Jul 30, 2021 12:26AM ET
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Awe, suddenly you think people have rights over their bodies?
William Smith
William Smith Jul 30, 2021 12:18AM ET
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Biden and Harris campaigned on the vaccines being unsafe. IIt's no mystery why minorities refuse to get vaccinated. If Biden and Harris wonder why there is a refusal to be vaccinated they need only to look in the mirror to find the problem.
Options Trader
Options Trader Jul 29, 2021 11:46PM ET
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Just when you thought it could not get crazier than 2020.
Roger Miller
Roger Miller Jul 29, 2021 11:18PM ET
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Isn’t this how communism works? People who follow do what the government tells them get the rewards. Keeps them coming back for more. It’s also how all tyrants and dictators gain support.
Eulon Purvis
Eulon Purvis Jul 29, 2021 10:34PM ET
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it's not covid. it is flu combined with Sahara dust allergy from 2020. best protection is having do.eone trained in naet treat you for allergy to 2020 Sahara dust if you have the allergy
Rick Baier
Rick Baier Jul 29, 2021 10:26PM ET
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Like Oprah giving away gifts to her audience. If the government says that something is good for you run as fast as you can "Morgan Freeman"
MuraliKrishna Brahmandam
MuraliKrishna Brahmandam Jul 29, 2021 10:09PM ET
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For $100 a shot, some will twice a day
Sab Baby
SabSabBaby Jul 29, 2021 9:53PM ET
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Stop being misinformed.  With 60% plus population being vaccinated, we are back to the top of the charts for new cases, similar counts as NOBODY was vaccinated before, and it's proven people being vaccinated with 2 doses of vaccines can still get Covid 19.  The side effects of the vaccines are serious too.
Frank Garner
Frank Garner Jul 29, 2021 9:38PM ET
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instead of giving $100.00 to get vaccinated, tax them $100.00 if they don't.
John Kochkerian
John Kochkerian Jul 29, 2021 9:38PM ET
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I love this!!!
Luu Hung
Luu Hung Jul 29, 2021 9:38PM ET
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Lovely
Craig Phillips
Craig Phillips Jul 29, 2021 9:38PM ET
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I wish the fat and unhealthy would get taxed and pay 2x the healthcare costs.
Mike Lomash
Mike Lomash Jul 29, 2021 9:38PM ET
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I would gladly pay 100 not to take that experimental jab you lab rats
Andrew Basile
Andrew Basile Jul 29, 2021 9:38PM ET
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great idea, Komrad
Jozef Drozd
Jozef Drozd Jul 29, 2021 9:32PM ET
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So you call this freedom by forcing people to take the experimental not fully tested jab ? Is this North Korea ?
Corey DeLaplain
SniperSam Jul 29, 2021 9:32PM ET
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Tyranny and Progressive/Socialist/Democrats always go hand in hand!
Mike Lomash
Mike Lomash Jul 29, 2021 9:31PM ET
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Completely illegal to require-just tell them its against your religious beliefs & tell them to ********off
Izzy Hayat
Izzy Hayat Jul 29, 2021 9:31PM ET
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John Kochkerian or you can get the ***** out my country with ur trying to take away rights
Mike Lomash
Mike Lomash Jul 29, 2021 9:31PM ET
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John Kochkerian my country too - my freedom to do as i please. Stay home you fear mongerer
Byedin Youlost
Byedin Youlost Jul 29, 2021 9:26PM ET
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the scam continues. my god this fake President is a mutt
Andrew Basile
Andrew Basile Jul 29, 2021 9:26PM ET
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He is not even a fake president. "Whitehouse occupant."
Scott Tobias
Scott Tobias Jul 29, 2021 9:16PM ET
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That would be a big mistake unless the $100 is not paid until the person has been completely vaccinated, not just for getting the first of two vaccinations (if they get the Pfizer or Moderns vaccines). The J&J vaccine should not count.
 
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