New York State Workers Must Get Vaccine or Weekly Tests, Cuomo Says
In response to late vaccination rates and rising coronavirus cases, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Wednesday that tens of thousands of New York state employees would be required to show proof of vaccination or have weekly tests.
The governor also announced a much stricter mandate for public hospitals, saying all health workers “in front of patients” in these facilities should be vaccinated, with no possibility of regular testing instead.
Mr. Cuomo’s announcement comes two days after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a similar requirement for the 300,000 New York government employees.
Much of the country is grappling with the rapid spread of the Delta coronavirus variant. Earlier this week, Governor Gavin Newsom of California announced his own requirement that would cover 246,000 state government employees, as well as two million healthcare workers in the public and private sectors.
President Biden will officially announce Thursday that all federal civilian employees must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or be required to undergo regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel, have two people familiar with the president’s plans said Wednesday. Such a policy would be a sea change for a president who has struggled with the authority he has to force Americans to get vaccinated.
Growing support from government officials for immunization mandates, which have been rejected by some unions, underscores their concern over a much more contagious variant that poses a particular threat to children and the elderly and unvaccinated.
“We are working with our unions to implement this quickly and fairly,” Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, said in remarks to a state business group on Wednesday.
The new state policy will take effect by Labor Day, he said.
Earlier this week, Mr. Cuomo refrained from imposing such a requirement on the state’s workforce, arguing that most “public-facing” employees were municipal employees, and suggesting that ‘it was more of a decision for the localities.
But Mr Cuomo’s change of stance became inevitable after Mr de Blasio’s announcement and news that a similar decision was under consideration at the federal level.
Mr Cuomo stressed the urgency of the change, noting the steady increase in coronavirus cases statewide: around 2,200 new cases were reported on Tuesday, up from 275 a month ago, on June 28.
Currently, most employees in New York State are not subject to regular testing, with the exception of those who work in certain collective settings such as colleges and universities.
For example, staff and faculty at the State University of New York and the City University of New York are required to get tested for the coronavirus weekly, unless they are fully vaccinated, a policy similar to that announced by M. de Blasio this week.
Public universities will require proof of vaccination from students attending in-person classes once the Food and Drug Administration fully approves the vaccines, although this could take months. Vaccines are now administered under an emergency use authorization.
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