The Department of Defense (DOD) is continuing to test unvaccinated troops for COVID-19 despite the Biden administration’s instruction for all federal agencies to stop testing programs, according to Government Executive.
On Aug. 11, the Biden administration revised the Federal Agency COVID-19 Workplace Safety Protocols in view of a decreased risk of COVID-19 transmission, requiring agencies to cease testing programs that discriminated based on a person’s vaccination status. Government offices had until Aug. 22 to come into compliance with the policy, but some DOD employees reported being tested because they had not received their shots, Government Executive reported.
“We’re all frustrated,” a civilian Defense employee told Government Executive after claiming that he and his unvaccinated colleagues were tested on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“As soon as possible and no later than Monday, August 22, 2022, pursuant to EO 13991 and consistent with CDC guidance, agencies must stop implementing any COVID-19 serial screening testing programs and any point-in-time screening testing requirements that differentiate among individuals based on their COVID-19 vaccination status,” the updated guidance, posted Aug. 17, stated.
Biden’s Safer Federal Workforce Task Force did allow for risk-based testing at certain federal sites, including correctional facilities and homeless shelters, not maintained by the DOD. During periods of higher risk, agencies must implement universal screening programs for employees “regardless of vaccination status.”
“The Department of Defense is currently reviewing the CDC guidelines and how they will apply to the Department,” Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Charlie Dietz told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Department leaders will keep its workforce, the public, and other stakeholders well-informed about how we will implement these changes going forward.”
He did not say whether or not the DOD was in compliance with the guidance.
He added that the DOD’s blend of contractors, civilian and military personnel placed it in a “unique” position among federal agencies, complicated further by the workforce’s operational requirements.
The Pentagon has come under criticism for a Department-wide vaccination mandate amid a historic recruiting crisis.
Roughly 60,000 unvaccinated Army National Guard and reserve soldiers were up for discharge as of July 8 and cannot receive their salaries or participate in federally-funded deployments, Military.com reported. The Navy has discharged more than 1,500 total service members for vaccine refusal and granted 21 permanent exemptions as of Wednesday, according to the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI).
Several lawsuits are pending regarding COVID-19 vaccination in the armed services, protecting unvaccinated personnel from formal discharge, according to Military.com.
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