Biden issues orders revoking COVID-19 vaccine requirements for federal workers, foreigners flying to the US

President Biden issued two orders Tuesday revoking COVID-19 vaccine requirements for federal workers and ending international air travel restrictions.  Vaccine requirements for federal workers and federal contractors, as well as foreign air travelers to the U.S., will end effective 12:01 a.m. EDT on May 12.  On Sept. 9, 2021, Biden issues two orders requiring COVID-19 vaccination for federal workers and ensuring contractors and subcontractors “have adequate COVID-19 safety protocols.”  Biden said those directives came at a time when the highly contagious delta variant of the virus in the United States had led to a rapid rise in cases and hospitalizations. “Those orders were necessary to protect the health and safety of critical workforces serving the American people and to advance the efficiency of Government services during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the president wrote Tuesday.  ABBOTT ACTIVATES ‘TEXAS TACTICAL BORDER FORCE,’ 545 MORE NATIONAL GUARDSMEN DEPLOYED BEFORE TITLE 42 EXPIRES  Biden said his administration successfully implemented a vaccination requirement for the federal government, the largest employer in the nation, achieving a 98% compliance rate that reflected employees who had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or had a pending or approved exemption or extension request by January 2022.  The president also touted that his administration “has effectively implemented the largest adult vaccination program in the history of the United States, with over 270 million Americans receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.”  “Following this important work, along with continued critical investments in tests and therapeutics that are protecting against hospitalization and death, we are no longer in the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, and my Administration has begun the process of ending COVID-19 emergency declarations. Our public health experts have issued guidance that allows individuals to understand mitigation measures to protect themselves and those around them,” he said. “Our healthcare system and public health resources throughout the country are now better able to respond to any potential surge of COVID-19 cases without significantly affecting access to resources or care.” Since September 2021, COVID-19 deaths have declined by 93% and new COVID-19 hospitalizations have declined by 86%, the White House said. “Considering this progress, and based on the latest guidance from our public health experts, we no longer need a Government-wide vaccination requirement for Federal employees or federally specified safety protocols for Federal contractors. Vaccination remains an important tool to protect individuals from serious illness, but we are now able to move beyond these Federal requirements.” MEXICAN PRESIDENT SLAMS DESANTIS-BACKED BILL MEANT TO DETER ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AS ‘IMMORAL’ On Oct. 25, 2021, Biden similarly had issued Proclamation 10294, requiring foreigners flying to the United States be vaccinated against COVID-19.  Invoking the powers of the U.S. Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act, Biden said Tuesday he found, “except as provided in any other applicable proclamation, the unrestricted entry of persons described in section 2 of Proclamation 10294 is no longer detrimental to the interests of the United States.”  The order said the secretaries of State, Health and Human Services (including through the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Transportation and Homeland Security shall review any regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions developed pursuant to Proclamation 10294 and, as appropriate, “shall consider revising or revoking these agency actions consistent with the policy set forth in this proclamation.” Federal courts and Congress have already rolled back Biden’s vaccine requirements for large employers and military service members. But mandates had remained for many employees of the National Institutes of Health, Indian Health Service and Department of Veterans Affairs – which implemented their own requirements for health care staff and others independent of the White House – and will remain while those agencies review their own requirements, the administration said. Meanwhile, the Title 42 public health order, which blocked some migrants from entering the U.S., is expected to expire on Thursday, prompting a surge at the southern border.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.  
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