President Joe Biden announced Thursday that all federal employees will be asked to prove they’re vaccinated against Covid or be tested one to two times per week for the virus.
The announcement impacts an estimated 1,500 federal workers in Salem.
It came on the back of new data that shows the Delta variant of the virus spreads more easily, including among vaccinated individuals; though those who have been vaccinated rarely show serious symptoms of illness.
“People are dying and will die who don’t have to die. If you’re out there unvaccinated, you don’t have to die,” Biden said.
The new requirement calls for those federal workers who remain unvaccinated to wear a mask and socially distance. Additionally, they will not be permitted to travel for work.
The changes announced Friday will also apply, Biden said, to all federal contractors.
“If you want to do business with the federal government, get your workers vaccinated,” Biden said.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has so far avoided imposing similar rules on state workers. But on Friday she announced that all employees and visitors inside state agency buildings will be required to wear face coverings, effective immediately.
The Centers for Disease Control now recommends even vaccinated people wear face coverings in public, indoor places in areas where the spread of cases is high–defined as 50 new Covid cases for every 100,000 people in a week. Both Marion and Polk counties currently meet that threshold.
Statewide, masks are not required for vaccinated individuals in places like grocery stores or shopping malls after Brown dropped the mandate for face coverings July 1.
Students and teachers returning to schools, however, will be required to wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status, Brown said in a statement on Thursday.
Brown has not yet required vaccinations for state workers. The Oregonian/OregonLive reported on July 28 Brown is considering such a requirement after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on July 26 that all state employees must be vaccinated or tested for Covid-19.
Correction: This article originally misstated the day of Biden's announcement. It was July 29, not July 30. Salem Reporter regrets the error.