New guidance released by the Biden administration on Tuesday requires federal agencies to start testing employees who are not vaccinated against COVID beginning February 15. The testing option will be mandatory for those who were exempted from the Biden administration's vaccination mandate for federal workers, beginning next month.
It will also be required during any week in which federal employees "work onsite or interact in person with members of the public as part of their job duties," the guidance read.
According to the Washington Post, the Biden administration also instructed federal agencies to "require more frequent testing for certain occupations or work settings."
The COVID vaccine mandate for federal workers was first announced by President Joe Biden back in September 2021 and then took effect on November 22. The COVID vaccine mandate is applicable to 3.5 million federal workers and require them to be fully vaccinated against COVID by November 22 or face potential discipline or in some cases, termination.
According to the report, federal workers who do not comply with the COVID vaccine mandate will be first counseled then suspended without pay, and eventually fired if they continue to refuse the vaccine. However, federal workers who were granted an exemption on medical or religious grounds and those whose exemptions are still pending, will be subjected to regular testing and other restrictions.
In December, the White House Office and Management and Budget (OMB) urged federal agencies not to issue discipline above education and counseling or a letter of reprimand for workers who still haven't gotten their COVID shots by January. According to Reuters, the Biden administration also instructed federal agencies to impose disciplinary measures on employees who refuse to get tested for COVID. It may also prohibit employees from agency workplaces "pending resolution of any disciplinary action."
The Biden administration's COVID vaccine mandate continues to be met with intense pushback. The Gateway Pundit alleged that the "Biden Regime" this week announced "another round of COVID tyranny" with its order to test unvaccinated federal workers every week beginning February.
Similarly, the state of Ohio through its labor commissioner said on Friday that they refuse to adopt or enforce the Biden administration's COVID vaccine mandate and testing requirements for large private businesses. According to the Des Moines Register, Iowa Labor Commissioner Rod Roberts explained in a news release that the state has decided its existing standards "are at least as effective as the federal standard change."
Iowa joins 20 other states that have their own state plan for workplace safety when it comes to COVID. This gives the state the option of establishing its own workplace rules for both federal and private sector workers. Roberts said, "Iowa doesn't have a standard requiring the COVID-19 vaccine or testing. But after closely reviewing the federal OSHA Vaccine Mandate, Iowa has determined it will not adopt the federal standard."
U.S. Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda on the other hand, still expects states to comply with the federal mandate. She argued that "we fully expect" states to follow the mandate because the vaccine mandate is an emergency temporary standard, issued "where the agency finds that workers are subjected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them."