“We can and we must open schools this fall, full-time” with proper safety measures


President Biden is delivering remarks from the White House on his administration’s next efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and get more Americans vaccinated.

According to a White House fact sheet, Biden will announce that, in an attempt to protect workers, “every federal government employee and onsite contractor will be asked to attest to their vaccination status.”

Employees who have not been vaccinated “will be required to wear a mask on the job no matter their geographic location, physically distance from all other employees and visitors, comply with a weekly or twice weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel.”

It’s not a mandate, officials insist, and most federal employees who do not get vaccinated will not lose their jobs as a result. Still, the shift toward placing the onus for the current situation on those who have refused to get vaccinated reflects Biden’s growing impatience that still-hesitant Americans are prolonging a crisis he said earlier this month was no longer paralyzing the nation.

During his speech Thursday, he also plans to directly address the millions who have procrastinated or outright refused to get vaccinated.

What the latest vaccination and case numbers show: As of Wednesday, cases rose in all but one state in the past seven days compared to the week before, and cases rose at least 50% in 36 states in that time, according to Johns Hopkins.

The rate of people getting their first Covid-19 vaccine shot has risen in recent days. The current pace of vaccinations (seven-day average) shows 389,963 people are initiating vaccination each day — a 31% increase over last week’s pace.

Still, only 49.4% of the total US population is fully vaccinated, according to data published Thursday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is far from the 70% to 85% that experts have estimated would be needed to slow or stop the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, nearly 80% of seniors (65+) are fully vaccinated and nearly 90% have at least one dose.

Read more about Biden’s speech here.

CNN’s Deidre McPhillips, Jason Hanna and Madeline Holcombe contributed reporting to this post.

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