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N.Y.C. Expected to Require City Workers to Be Vaccinated by Mid-September

N.Y.C. Expected to Require City Workers to Be Vaccinated by Mid-September
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N.Y.C. Expected to Require City Workers to Be Vaccinated by Mid-September

N.Y.C. Expected to Require City Workers to Be Vaccinated by Mid-September

New York City will require all city workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus when schools reopen in mid-September or undergo weekly testing, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday morning.

Last week, Mr de Blasio announced a similar mandate for public health officials – as part of an effort to speed up vaccinations as the city faces a third wave of coronavirus cases driven by the spread of the Delta variant.

The new requirement will apply to approximately 340,000 municipal workers, including teachers and police. The September 13 deadline, when around one million students are expected to return to classrooms, shows the importance of reopening schools for the city’s recovery and for Mr de Blasio’s legacy.

Speaking at his morning press conference, Mr de Blasio, a Democrat in his last year in office, also reiterated its call for private employers to establish similar or stronger vaccine mandates for their workers.

“September is the pivotal point of the recovery,” Mr. de Blasio said, “and so on September 13, the first day of school, every employee in the city will need to either be vaccinated or tested every week.”

“Don’t wait,” said Dr Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, calling on all city workers to get vaccinated earlier than the September deadline. “We need stronger medicine to deal with Delta, and that is why we are taking these steps today.”

Whether all unions in the city will be fully involved in the new mandate remains an open question. Mr de Blasio said he was acting out of a sense of urgency, so city officials had yet to speak with all the municipal unions involved. Those with whom the city had spoken, said he and other city officials, had reacted positively.

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The city’s largest public employees union said on Monday there were still steps to be taken before agreeing to the testing requirement.

“The weekly tests are clearly subject to mandatory negotiations,” Henry Garrido, executive director of the DC37 union, said in a statement. “New York City is a union city, and it cannot be ignored.

Nearly five million New Yorkers have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but the speed of inoculations has slowed. Two million adult New Yorkers remain unvaccinated. The number of virus cases rose to more than 800 on average per day, more than triple the daily average at the end of June.

Mr de Blasio was among the first large city mayors to open schools for all in-person instruction last fall, and he announced in May that the city’s public schools would reopen for full-time live instruction in September, without distance learning option. This made New York one of the first major school systems to declare a return to fully normal schooling for the next school year.

But parents and educators have expressed anxiety in recent weeks as the city’s average test positivity rate has risen. Some parents say they are worried that the new school year will face major disruptions, as it did last year, and some teachers say they are concerned about returning to classrooms with an increase in cases.

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The city’s education department estimates that about 60 percent of its employees are vaccinated, about the same rate as employees at the city’s public hospitals. Vaccination rates appear to be lower in the police department, which administered the vaccine to 43 percent of its members. The city’s fire department has an immunization rate of around 55%.

New York City’s vaccination rate as a whole is 65 percent for adults, better than the national average, but there are some neighborhoods where the rate is below 40 percent.

City health and hospital workers should be vaccinated or tested weekly from August 2, announced the mayor. On August 16, 45,000 city employees who work in collective or residential settings, such as homeless shelters and centers for the elderly, will have to do the same. The mandate for the rest of the City’s employees comes into effect on the first day of the school year.

Mr de Blasio said the city would strengthen a current rule requiring all unvaccinated employees to wear masks indoors at all times. The rule will now require people to present a single proof of vaccination to evade this mask mandate.

The mayor also said the city is introducing a new “NYC Covid Safe” app to help employers track vaccination status and weekly test results. New York State has an app, the Excelsior Pass, with a similar function.

Mr de Blasio said the threat of the Delta variant made the city’s new measures necessary.

“If someone is not vaccinated, unfortunately they pose a threat to themselves, but they also have a higher chance of spreading the disease,” he said. “September is when the rubber hits the road, and that’s when we have to make a difference. “

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