DoD not in compliance with stopping COVID testing of unvaccinated

Source: Hot Air

Last week we looked at the story of how the Biden administration quietly put an end to mandatory COVID testing for federal workers based on their vaccination status. The change was intended to bring the government into compliance with new, relaxed guidelines issued by the CDC. The changes were supposed to be in place by Monday, with compliance reports being sent to the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (an awkward name at best). But apparently not everyone got the memo or, if they did, they didn’t bother reading it. As of now, there is one massive portion of the government that is still requiring special testing for some unvaccinated employees. That would be the Department of Defense with its 750,000 civilian personnel along with more than two million members of the armed services and the National Guard. Why haven’t they come into compliance yet? They’re saying that they’re “still reviewing the guidelines.” (Government Executive)

The Biden administration last week instructed agencies to stop their testing programs aimed at employees not vaccinated against COVID-19, though some are still not in compliance.

Agencies were told to implement the new, no-testing-based-on-vaccination-status policy by Monday at the latest, but some employees were still required to take a test on Wednesday because they have not gotten their shots. The issue was apparent at the Defense Department, which said it was still sorting out how to implement the White House’s guidance. The update came from President Biden’s Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, which made the changes to align the federal government with new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The Department of Defense is currently reviewing the CDC guidelines and how they will apply to the department,” said Maj. Charlie Dietz, a Pentagon spokesperson. “DoD is unique among federal agencies, both for its specific blend of workforce, comprised of uniformed military, civilian employees, and contractor personnel, as well as the operational requirements of that workforce.”

The statement from the Defense Department spokesman is rather shocking. He’s saying that the DoD will “craft its own policy” that best “meets the needs” of its workforce. But the orders that came out last week seemed very clear and they were not optional. The directive said, “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.” It further said that the changes must be made “as soon as possible and no later than Aug. 22.”

It’s now August 25th. So the DoD is basically telling the White House to take a long walk off of a short pier and they will put new guidelines in place when they are good and ready to do so. Who is making these decisions and overriding the Commander-in-Chief? And are they being called down on the carpet for it?

In a way, I can understand if the military wanted to keep stricter testing and immunization guidelines in place. Service members are frequently subjected to much broader vaccination requirements, particularly before they deploy overseas, and those shots are mandatory. I suppose they could order testing to be done in the same way.

But the department’s three-quarters of a million federal workers are not uniformed service members. They are civilian employees just like everyone else working for the government. If discriminatory testing requirements based on vaccination status have ended for the rest of the federal employees, they should be ending for them also, right?

One unvaccinated federal contractor told Government Executive on background that he and his unvaccinated colleagues were tested on both Monday and Wednesday this week. He described their situation as “frustrating.” That’s understandable. Other major federal government agencies including NASA have already issued new guidance to end those testing schedules based on the CDC’s guidelines.

As with so many other aspects of the government’s response to the pandemic, I’m fairly sure that history will not look back kindly on these people. We got so many things wrong and some of the decisions, particularly the move to close all of the schools, have turned out to not only be unproductive but actually damaging to those who the policies were supposed to help.