President's tough new vaccination rules impact 20000 federal civilian workers in Hawaii


Hawaii News Now 29 July, 2021 - 10:24pm 38 views

Under the new rules, they’ll be required to verify they’re vaccinated or face regular testing. Unvaccinated workers will also face travel restrictions and be required to mask up.

Biden outlined the requirements Thursday in an public address, calling the rising-yet-preventable deaths among the unvaccinated an “American tragedy.”

“Right now, too many people are dying or watching someone they love die and say, ‘If I’d just got the vaccine.’ People are dying who don’t have to die,” Biden said. “Want to know how we put this virus behind us? Well I’ll tell you how, we have to get more people vaccinated.”

He said federal civilian workers and onsite contractors who aren’t vaccinated “will be required to mask no matter where they work, test one or two times a week to see if they’ve acquired COVID, social distance, and generally will not be allowed to travel for work.”

Biden’s order come three days after the Department of Veterans announced a vaccine mandate for its healthcare workers.

Dr. Adam Robinson, director VA Pacific Health Care System and a former Surgeon General of the Navy, said there are medical and religious exemptions to the mandate.

80% of the VA Pacific Health Care System’s 1,600 employees have already been vaccinated.

“If we can stay the course and vaccinate, I truly feel that we can defeat the virus and I think the longer we debate that, the longer we are going to have COVID-19 with us,” Robinson said.

Meanwhile, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers ― which represents 3,000 federal workers in Hawaii ― says it supports the vaccine mandate for federal workers.

“We don’t want any more of our members dying,” said the union, in a statement.

“We don’t think either our members or their mission should be placed at risk by those who have been hesitant to take a shot,” it added.

On Thursday, Biden also urged local governments to give $100 to those who get the vaccine. He said federal COVID aid could be used for the incentives.

But some local leaders questioned the suggestion.

“Why are we pampering those who are not vaccinated by having incentive programs?” asked Honolulu City Council member Calvin Say.

Read full article at Hawaii News Now

Biden defends previously saying vaccinated don't need masks: 'That was true at the time'

Fox News 30 July, 2021 - 06:10am

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2021 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Factset. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. Legal Statement. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper.

President Biden grew heated Thursday while defending his administration's flip-flop on whether vaccinated Americans need to wear masks. 

Fox News' Peter Doocy pressed Biden about his administration's reversal, pointing to the president's statement in May that, "If you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need to wear a mask." 

"In May you made it seem like the vaccine was the ticket to losing the mask forever," Doocy pointed out.

"That was true at the time," Biden shouted. "Because I thought there were people that were going to understand that getting vaccinated made a dramatic difference and what happened was the new variant came along, they didn’t get vaccinated, it spread more rapidly, and more people were getting sick."

"That’s the difference," Biden added before walking away. 

Biden will also push for businesses to offer paid time off to employees in order to get them vaccinated and will require all federal workers to be vaccinated or face rigorous testing and social distancing requirements.

"It's time to impose requirements on key groups to make sure they are vaccinated," Biden said. 

"Every federal government employee will be asked to attest to their vaccination status. Anyone who does not attest will be required to mask no matter where they work and test 1-2 times a week, socially distance, and will generally not be allowed to travel for work."

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This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2021 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Factset. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. Legal Statement. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper.

The White House seems to be playing catch-up on coronavirus messaging

NBC News 30 July, 2021 - 06:10am

The Tuesday afternoon timing of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's official recommendation that individuals who are vaccinated might need to wear masks in some areas left White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who had repeatedly insisted in recent days that they did not, as the first public official to face questions on a policy shift White House officials had only recently learned of themselves.

"We are always going to be guided by our North Star, and that is the CDC and our health and medical experts," she said in response to a crush of questions Monday, as rumors swirled ahead of the official announcement.

Throughout the White House, the swift policy change caught staffers by surprise, but the dynamic was far from unfamiliar: Since Biden took office, much of the decision-making and messaging around pandemic policy has been in the hands of public health officials, not politicians.

The hands-off approach has at times left his White House scrambling to find its footing in the wake of some of the agency's most consequential moves.

But it's an approach that has come with its own set of drawbacks.

It has fallen on the White House to deal with the aftermath of confusing messages out of the agency on whether schools can reopen if teachers aren't vaccinated or if it's safe for vaccinated people to travel.

When peppered with questions about why restrictions are still in place for travel to many countries, a decision that has frustrated the tourism industry and Americans with family abroad, the White House has deferred to its public health officials, who haven't provided a clear rationale.

Now, medical experts say this week's announcement that vaccinated people might need to put their masks back on has suffered from the same lack of clear, unified messaging that plagued the spring guidance that they could take them off — leading to a similar swell of public confusion.

"This has been a consistent problem with the CDC," said Dr. Leana Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner. "The same thing happens back in May, where they got the science right but the policy and communications really confused. And that directly led to where we are today."

While the CDC and West Wing are in near-daily contact, administration officials said the timing of the mask announcement was driven by the agency.

“We are dealing with a constantly changing virus, evolving and mutating and generating new threats," one official said. "When that happened in 2020, politics and preferred messaging trumped public health, with a president who buried his head in the sand at best and overruled or contradicted public health leaders at worst. The science is the science, and thank God we follow it because lives are at stake here."

But so, perhaps, is Biden's presidency. The gap between White House hopes and the CDC's hard reality has come into especially sharp relief over the course of the past week, as a cascade of events have left the “summer of freedom” Biden predicted in June, and potentially his wider agenda, increasingly under threat.

Covid cases have spiked due to the rapidly spreading delta variant. New data indicates that even vaccinated people may be able to spread the virus. The number of new daily vaccine doses delivered has plateaued at levels far below spring highs.

And the virus's continued threat has hit home for Biden in recent days, with infections in a fully vaccinated White House staffer, an aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a group of Texas state representatives who visited with Vice President Kamala Harris.

During a presidential trip to Pennsylvania on Tuesday, White House officials found themselves trying to determine if the Mack Trucks plant he was touring was in a "yellow zone," which would allow him to remain mask-free, or an "orange zone," which would have required him to don a face covering in public for the first time in two months.

(A CDC map with county-level data based on weekly averages from three days ago indicated it was yellow, though the neighboring county was orange.)

Back in Washington, the White House was nearing the end of a month that began with an "independence from the virus" bash with a far more subdued tone.

Just over an hour after the CDC’s mask announcement on Tuesday, a White House aide began handing out masks to reporters planning to cover an event with the vice president, telling them that Washington now fell into the category of “substantial” risk areas where the CDC advised mask use.

At the event, Harris sounded a frustrated note.

"Nobody likes wearing a mask," she said. "Get vaccinated."

By the end of the day, the entire West Wing was again masked — including the president.

"It is really a challenge, because of course we want to support the CDC, and you don’t want people to lose trust in the CDC," Wen said. "But it makes our job as public health leaders much harder, because we are now trying to defend a message from the CDC that is convoluted and confusing."

In the absence of a coordinated administration push on mask guidance changes this week, Republicans quickly moved to fill the void, calling the announcement an overreaction, government overreach and a politically driven move.

"Don’t surrender to COVID. Don’t go back! Why do Democrats distrust the science?" said former President Donald Trump, who usually refused to wear a mask even before he was vaccinated, in a statement to supporters. "Don’t let this happen to our children or our Country."

The public marks for Biden's handling of the pandemic have dipped just slightly since May to 59 percent approving of the job he is doing and 35 percent disapproving, according to the FiveThirtyEight polling average.

But the rise in Covid cases in recent weeks has appeared to contribute to a rising pessimism among Americans, according to a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll, which found 55 percent of Americans saying they’re pessimistic about the year ahead, versus 45 percent who say they’re optimistic. That’s a sharp reversal from April, when 64 percent said they were optimistic about the next year, while 36 percent said they were pessimistic.

Amid the souring public mood, administration officials defended their pandemic messaging approach.

"Last year, when things changed and cases spiked, the consequences of inaction or conflict or overruling experts were thousands of dead Americans," the administration official said. "We aren’t going to let that happen."

Biden announces measures to incentivize Covid-19 vaccinations, including a requirement for federal employees

CNN 30 July, 2021 - 06:10am

Updated 8:13 PM ET, Thu July 29, 2021

CNN's Kevin Liptak, DJ Judd, Liz Stark, Barbara Starr, Lauren Mascarenhas, Jacqueline Howard and Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.

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Analysis: Biden opens up new front in Covid-19 vaccination war as concerns over variant deepen

CNN 30 July, 2021 - 06:10am

Updated 12:45 AM ET, Fri July 30, 2021

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