President Biden said Tuesday that a vaccination mandate for federal employees is "under consideration," adding that "if you're not vaccinated, you're not nearly as smart as I thought you were," ABC News reports.
"We have a pandemic because of the unvaccinated, and they're sowing enormous confusion," the president said. "And the more we learn ... about this virus and the Delta variation, the more we have to be worried and concerned. Only one thing we know for sure — if those other 100 million people got vaccinated, we'd be in a very different world." As CNN's Kevin Liptak notes, such messaging is a sharp departure from that of the White House lately.
If implemented, a vaccine mandate would affect at least 4 million federal employees and represent "a significant escalation in a push to expand vaccine coverage," The Washington Post reports. On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to require 115,000 of its frontline healthcare employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Biden also commented on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's much-criticized updated mask guidance, which recommends fully-vaccinated individuals once again wear masks indoors in areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates. "Today's announcement also makes clear that the most important protection we have against the Delta variant is to get vaccinated," said Biden. "Although most U.S. adults are vaccinated, too many are not. While we have seen an increase in vaccinations in recent days, we still need to do better."
The president is expected to lay out "next steps" in administration vaccination efforts on Thursday.