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 Mr. Biden’s latest attempt to spur reluctant Americans to get vaccinated as the Delta variant surges nationwide, infecting unvaccinated people in particular.
The U.S. 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.
Mr. 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.
“Right now too many people are dying or watching someone they love dying,” Mr. 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.”
Mr. 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.