Schwartz also updated the number of agency employees who have, to date, contracted the CCP virus, boosting that figure to more than 4,000 from Haaland's earlier mention of around 3,900, though the secretary noted in her remarks that the number was continuing to increase.
"Though many people are vaccinated, our country still faces increased rates of COVID-19 infections and more aggressive variants," Haaland said, noting that the Interior Department would be requiring its on-site staff and contractors to wear face coverings, regardless of vaccination status.
"To help fight this devastating disease, we are following CDC guidance and putting our masks back on."
The CDC recently updated its mask-wearing guidelines, recommending facial coverings for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people when entering high-transmission areas.
“Each state and community faces different threats, so if you are in an area with substantial to high COVID transmission rates, everyone—employees, contractors, and visitors—must wear a mask in all federal buildings, no matter your vaccination status,” Haaland said.
“Right now, too many people are dying or watching someone they love die and say if ‘I’d just got the vaccine,’” Biden said in the East Room of the White House. “This is an American tragedy. People are dying who don’t have to die.”