• Biden is also expected to lay out new steps to spur new vaccinations
  • The new policy is expected to be announced Thursday: CNN
  •  A blanket mandate would cover at least 4 million federal employees

President Joe Biden is considering a vaccine mandate that would require millions of federal employees to get vaccinated or submit themselves to regular testing in order to curb the resurgence of COVID-19, which is spreading mainly among unvaccinated individuals in the country.

CNN reported quoting an unnamed source familiar with the matter that the mandate could be announced Thursday, when Biden is expected to lay out a series of new steps to spur new vaccinations. But Politico reported that no final decision has been made on announcing the mandate.

"If you’re not vaccinated, you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were,” Biden told reporters at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Tuesday, reported USA Today.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidelines for COVID-19 on Tuesday, with recommendations that fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors if they're in places with "substantial" or "high" spread of the virus. The more contagious Delta variant of the virus is fueling the latest surge of coronavirus cases in the country, having been detected in more than 80% of sequenced samples. Andy Slavitt, a former aide to Joe Biden's Covid Response Team, called it COVID-19 on steroids.

Biden's mandate would require verifying that federal employees are vaccinated for COVID-19 using an "attestation of vaccination," which means confirming vaccination status, or they follow stringent COVID-19 protocols like mandatory mask-wearing and regular testing.

A blanket mandate would cover at least four million federal employees, including civilian workers and members of both the U.S. military and the U.S. Postal Service. But it is still not clear if it would apply to members of the military.

CDC data shows that nearly two-thirds of U.S. counties have high or substantial transmission of COVID-19. Three states with lower vaccination rates compared to the national average of 49.7% — Florida, Texas and Missouri — accounted for 40% of all cases nationwide as of July 23.

"The Delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters Tuesday. The variant is said to be at least two times more contagious than the Alpha variant that drove the initial waves of infections.

On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to issue a vaccine mandate to some of its staff, requiring its medical facility employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a statement that mandating vaccines is “the best way to keep veterans safe, especially as the Delta variant spreads across the country.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that other federal agencies could follow the VA’s vaccine mandate.

US President Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden is once again being questioned for a recent claim about the time he drove an 18-wheeler truck. AFP / SAUL LOEB