Neither rain, nor sleet … nor presidential proclamation.
President Biden on Thursday mandated COVID-19 vaccines for about 100 million US workers, but the more than 600,000 letter-carriers and administrative staff of the US Postal Service reportedly won’t have to get a shot.
A White House official confirmed the exemption to Washington Post postal reporter Jacob Bogage, adding that “we strongly encourage them to comply with these standards” anyhow.
It was not immediately clear why postal workers — who serve every community in the United States, often with daily door-to-door deliveries and contact with millions of Americans — would be exempted from new mandates that apply to most federal workers and companies with 100 or more staff.
The White House did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
Biden described his justification for a package of vaccine mandates in stark terms. His rules would apply two-thirds of all American workers.
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” Biden said in a speech. “This is not about freedom, or personal choice. It’s about protecting yourself and those around you.”
Biden on Thursday signed two executive orders: one requiring vaccination for most federal workers with limited medical and religious exemptions and another forcing federal contractors to also vaccinate their workforces.
The Labor Department will issue a rule forcing all companies with 100 employees to get vaccinated or be tested weekly, Biden said. Fines of $14,000 per violation are expected.
Other new mandates impact teachers and health care workers. About 17 million employees of health care facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid payments and 300,000 teachers in the Head Start programs for poor children also must now get vaccinated.
According to CDC data, 75.3 percent of US adults have had at least one coronavirus vaccine shot. But vaccination rates vary among states and the national infection rate is as high as it was in late January when few Americans were vaccinated.
Data indicate that young people, Republicans and members of some minority groups, including African-Americans and Hispanics, are less likely to be vaccinated.
Many postal workers are represented by the American Postal Workers Union, which is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.
A different AFL-CIO union, the American Federation of Government Employees, gave a noncommittal statement on the new mandates — saying that “workers deserve a voice in their working conditions.”
“We expect to bargain over this change prior to implementation, and we urge everyone who is able to get vaccinated as soon as they can do so,” AFGE said.