President Joe Biden has called on state and local leaders to make $100 payments to newly vaccinated Americans, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.
States can choose to provide these payments “as an extra incentive to boost vaccination rates, protect communities and save lives,” the Department of the Treasury said, per WSJ. A $350 billion allotment for state and local governments was included in the stimulus package passed earlier this year and can be used to pay for the incentive.
“With freedom comes responsibility,” Biden said in a speech Thursday (July 29), according to WSJ. “Your decision to be unvaccinated impacts someone else.”
Biden also put his foot down against unvaccinated federal employees, WSJ reported. According to his new directive, they either have to get vaccinated or be subjected to regular COVID-19 tests.
Biden said he wants his requirements for employees to also apply to all federal contractors, WSJ reported. The White House said the federal government employs over 4 million people, including over 2 million civilians. Most of them do not live in the Washington D.C. area. Less than 5 percent of those people are in the areas with the lowest vaccination rates.
He said he’s also looking into how the Department of Defense can determine how and when COVID-19 shots can be added as one of the required shots for members of the U.S. military, according to WSJ.
The White House said it will be requiring federal workers who can’t attest to being fully vaccinated to wear masks while working no matter where they’re located, WSJ reported. They will also have to be tested once or twice a week, abide by social distancing rules and follow restrictions on official travel. That includes members of the military.
The government will be encouraging private employers to take similar steps, according to WSJ. Some private companies already have such plans in place, including Google. The tech giant will require proof of vaccination as employees return to the office on Oct. 18.
“Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead,” Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email.
Pichai said this policy will be for U.S. workers first but will be expanded to other locales later.
There will be exceptions made in regions where the vaccine is scarce, and to people who can’t get it for medical or other reasons.