WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Thursday is toughening COVID-19 vaccine requirements for federal workers and contractors, according to a person familiar with the plans, as he aims to boost vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant that is killing thousands each week and jeopardizing the nation's economic recovery.
Just weeks after he mandated federal workers get a shot or face rigorous testing and masking protocols, Biden has signed an new executive order to require vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors that do business with the federal government.
The step comes in advance of a speech Thursday afternoon outlining a six-pronged plan to address the latest rise in coronavirus cases and the stagnating pace of COVID-19 shots.
It wasn't immediately clear if Biden's order includes exceptions for workers or contractors seeking religious or medical exemptions from vaccination.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Biden's plans before they were publicly released.
Biden has encouraged COVID-19 vaccine requirements in settings likes schools, workplaces and university campuses, and the White House hopes the strengthened federal mandate will inspire more businesses to follow suit.