(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden is expected to announce Thursday that all federal employees and contractors must receive the COVID vaccination or undergo regular COVID testing, just two days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that vaccinated Americans should resume wearing masks.
Though the decision is not official, Republicans have begun criticizing it and the CDC’s mask reversal, calling them federal overreach. The CDC in May said vaccinated individuals did not ned to wear masks.
“The CDC’s latest mask ruling that people who have been vaccinated have to wear masks indoors is 100% politics, not science,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
The Department of Federal Affairs on Monday said all federal health care professionals would need to receive the vaccine. Several municipalities, including Chicago, Los Angeles and New Orleans, have already put mask mandates back in place. Multiple states have also announced requirements that government workers must be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID tests.
The expected decision comes after Biden told reporters earlier this week that the federal requirement was “under consideration right now.”
The CDC and Biden administration have taken fire for the decision as critics point to the CDC telling vaccinated Americans they do not need masks just two months ago.
“When [Biden] made those comments back in May, we were dealing with a very different strain of the virus than we are today,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters earlier this week. “And delta is more transmissible. It is spreading much more quickly.”
The reversal took criticism from Republicans who said it would undermine confidence in the vaccine.
They also said requiring vaccinated Americans to mask suggests the vaccine itself is not enough protection.
“The decision yesterday by the CDC to reverse its guidance and mandate masks for vaccinated people is the kind of decision that is infuriating people across this country,” Cruz said. “Today, the credibility of the CDC is in tatters because leadership of the CDC has been willing to allow science to become politicized.”
This next round of mask mandates has rallied a contingent that have resisted shutdowns, mask mandates and forced vaccination, calling them abuses of government power.