As of Aug. 6, a spokeswoman for the Interior Department revealed that 35 of its employees had died from COVID-19, a sickness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Following Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland’s announcement in a video speech earlier this week that 34 agency employees had died from COVID-19, the department’s communications director, Melissa Schwartz, tweeted on Aug. 6 that one more person had died, bringing the total to 35.
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Haaland voiced alarm about the virus’s spread, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) thinks to be more transmissible and potentially resistant to vaccines.
“Despite the fact that many people are vaccinated, our country nevertheless faces higher rates of COVID-19 infections and more aggressive variants,” Haaland said, adding that the Interior Department would require all on-site workers and contractors, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face covers.
“We’re putting our masks back on to help combat this horrible disease,” says the CDC.
When accessing high-transmission regions, the CDC recently amended its mask-wearing guidelines, suggesting facial coverings for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
“Because each state and town faces various hazards, if you live in an area where COVID transmission rates are substantial to high, everyone—employees, contractors, and visitors—must wear a mask in all federal buildings regardless of vaccination status,” Haaland stated.
Following the CDC’s statement that mask-wearing will be more strictly enforced, a number of Republican governors spoke out against it, with Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey saying that the measure would “just decrease faith in the vaccination and create more challenges.”
President Joe Biden issued new guidelines on July 29 requiring federal workers and contractors to provide proof of immunization or wear masks, engage in social distancing, and submit to regular COVID-19 testing. Haaland’s comments concerning masking at the Interior Department match those rules.
“Right now, too many people are dying or watching someone they love die and wondering what would have happened if they had only had the vaccine,” Biden remarked in the White House East Room. “This is a national disaster in the United States. People who don’t have to die are dying.”
On Aug. 6, White House COVID-19 Data Director Cyrus Shahpar stated that half of the US population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to date.