The six-part plan will include the order that all executive branch federal workers get vaccinated, which the person familiar said will also apply to federal contractors that do business with the government. The order wouldn’t cover congressional or court system employees.
Parts of the health department, as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense have already rolled out similar hard vaccine requirements covering an estimated 2.5 million workers.
Until Thursday, the rest of the federal workforce had the option to submit to regular testing, mask-wearing and restrictions on travel rather than get vaccinated. That clause will now be eliminated, bringing the entire government in line with the approach that Biden has pushed private-sector companies to adopt.
Biden during his speech is also expected to urge schools to implement regular testing for all students, teachers and staff, two people familiar with the matter said.
The White House earlier this year allocated $10 billion to help schools create Covid-19 testing regimes, but few took advantage of the opportunity amid a lull in cases earlier this year. Now, as the Delta variant fuels a resurgence and children return to classrooms, Biden will press schools to refocus their efforts on regular testing.
Marcus Plescia, chief medical officer at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said the effort to implement testing in schools across the country is a good idea. Public health experts have raised concern in recent weeks that infections among children are rising as they head back into classrooms for the start of the school year.
“I have been surprised at how many are not testing routinely,” Plescia said.
But it is unclear how the Biden administration plans to get school districts that have not already implemented testing to do so. So far, just 1,602 institutions have signed up to partake in a separate $650 million federal effort to organize testing at regional coordination hubs at K-8 schools and congregate settings like homeless shelters.
One industry source expressed doubt at the effectiveness of what they described as the Biden team employing a strategy of “No, really guys, we mean it.”
“We all assume that it’s just Texas and Iowa that aren’t testing to protect kids. But the reality is plenty of affluent suburbs in Connecticut, Maryland, etc. aren’t even testing at all,” the source said.