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With cases surging, Joe Biden to launch six-point plan against COVID-19

The plan will also include a requirement that all federal employees get vaccinated.

With COVID-19 positive cases surging among the unvaccinated population in U.S., President Joe Biden will outline new approaches to control the pandemic in a speech on Thursday, including a requirement that all federal employees get vaccinated.

Many in the United States remain skeptical of the shots two months after Mr. Biden declared that Americans are "closer than ever to declaring our independence" from the coronavirus.

In July, Mr. Biden said federal workers had to get vaccinated or face regular COVID-19 testing and other restrictions like mandatory face masks at workplaces.

In the speech, Mr. Biden will take it a step further, announcing an executive order to require all federal employees and government contractors to get vaccinated, a source familiar with the situation said.

Just over 53% of Americans are fully vaccinated, includingalmost two-thirds of the adult population, according to CDC data. The disease has killed more than 654,000 Americans.

Mr. Biden will lay out a six-part plan to get more people vaccinated, enhance protection for those who already have had shots and keep schools open, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The speech will cover increasing testing and mask-wearing,protecting the economic recovery from the pandemic-inducedrecession, and improving healthcare for people infected with thedisease, she said in television interviews.

"He’s going to speak directly to vaccinated people and theirfrustration, and he wants them to hear how we’re going to buildon what we’ve done to date to get the virus under control and toreturn to some version of normal in this country," she said.

Increasing infections have raised concerns as children head back to school, while also rattling investors and upending company return-to-office plans.

With 160,000 new infections a day, the country is "still in pandemic mode … That’s not even modestly good control, the President’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci said,adding: "You’ve got to get well below 10,000 before you start feeling comfortable."

The White House plans to offer booster shots providing additional protection to those who are fully vaccinated, a rejection of arguments from the World Health Organization and other advocates that with global vaccine supplies limited, rich countries should pause booster shots until more people worldwide are inoculated.

Ms. Psaki told MSNBC the White House wants COVID-19 tests to be easier to obtain.

The White House says the federal government cannot mandatevaccines nationwide, but it has encouraged school districts,businesses and other entities to require shots.

Many school districts have mandated masks, despite heated controversy in some areas, and some have required teachers to be vaccinated or face regular testing.

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