The White House on Monday revealed holiday decorations to honor frontline workers, many of whom have been threatened with job termination if they don’t get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Nurses, doctors, teachers, grocery store workers, and others are recognized in an extensive gingerbread village, which included a school, police, fire and gas stations, a hospital, a post office, a grocery store, and a warehouse to honor workers who stayed on the job during the pandemic, according to a 2021 Holidays at The White House guidebook.
Frontline workers also are represented in the “iridescent doves and shooting stars” that illuminate the East Colonnade hallway “representing the peace and light brought to us by all the front-line workers and first responders during the pandemic,” the guidebook says.
There’s no mention, though, that President Joe Biden wants many of those frontline workers to face serious penalty or job termination if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine or agree to weekly testing.
First lady Jill Biden invited a local National Guard family to help unveil the holiday decorations Monday as a way to highlight the Guard’s role in responding to the pandemic and military families spending the holidays separated from loved ones.
This year’s National Guard family includes a captain who serves as the unit commander for the District of Columbia Army National Guard Medical Detachment, CNN reported.
Meawhile, in Oklahoma, a dispute between Gov. Kevin Stitt, R-Okla., and the Pentagon over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is setting up the first critical test of the military’s authority to require National Guard troops to get the shot.
The government last week asked a federal appeals court to immediately lift a court-ordered stay on a sweeping workplace COVID-19 vaccine rule to avoid “enormous” harm to public health, or alternatively to allow a masking-and-testing requirement, according to a court filing.
Delaying the rule by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that requires employees to be vaccinated or tested weekly would lead to thousands of hospitalizations and deaths, the government said in a filing with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
It was unclear how the White House would handle holiday parties and receptions due to COVID-19. Press secretary Jen Psaki has said there will be parties, but that they will be “different” than in years past.
Volunteers who decorated the White House came from the surrounding Washington, D.C., area this year because of the pandemic.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.