Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House's top adviser on COVID-19, said Tuesday that local governments should require teachers to get vaccinated.
Speaking on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Fauci said that the risks posed by the Delta variant are so "serious" that he is now in favor of vaccine mandates.
"I'm going to upset some people on this, but I think we should" have vaccine mandates for teachers, Fauci said. "We are in a critical situation now. We've had 615,000+ deaths and we are in a major surge now as we're going into the fall, into the school season."
"This is very serious business," Fauci continued. "You would wish that people would see why it's so important to get vaccinated. But you're not going to get mandates centrally from the federal government."
Instead of federal mandates, Fauci said there should be local mandates "for schools, for teachers, for universities, for colleges."
"I"m sorry, I mean I know people must like to have their individual freedom and not be told to do something, but I think we're in such a serious situation now, that under certain circumstances, mandates should be done," he said.
Fauci has previously said that Americans should expect a "flood" of COVID-19 vaccine mandates once the Food and Drug Administration grants full approval to one or more of the vaccines.
More than a dozen large U.S. corporations have already enacted vaccine mandates for some or all of their workers. Walmart, Google, Tyson Foods, and United Airlines were among the latest companies to require workers to be vaccinated to keep their jobs.
Tyson Foods CEO Donnie King announced the company's vaccine mandate on August 3, requiring all employees to be vaccinated no later than Nov. 1.
"We did not take this decision lightly. We have spent months encouraging our team members to get vaccinated – today, under half of our team members are. We take this step today because nothing is more important than our team members' health and safety, and we thank them for the work they do, every day, to help us feed this country, and our world," King said.
United Airlines will require all 67,000 of its U.S.-based employees to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 25 or risk losing their jobs.
Walmart, which has 1.6 million U.S. employees, is requiring all corporate and management staff to be vaccinated while blue-collar employees in areas with high rates of COVID-19 transmission are required to wear masks.
According to the New York Times COVID-19 tracker, the daily average reported cases on Monday was 124,470, an increase of 118% over 14 days. As the Delta variant spreads, the U.S. is averaging more than 100,000 cases per day for the first time since February. About half of all U.S. residents and nearly 61% of adults are now fully vaccinated.