NY to Require Vaccinations for Some Health Care Workers

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference, Monday, July 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Patient-facing health-care workers in New York will be required to get the coronavirus vaccine, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

“Our healthcare workers carried us through this pandemic,” the governor tweeted. “And we owe it to them to do what we can to keep Delta under control.”

All 130,000 New York State employees will be required to get vaccinated  by Labor Day or be tested weekly.

“We are working with the state unions to implement this program quickly & fairly,” he added.

“New Yorkers have displayed tremendous dedication and resilience to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic across the state, but vaccination rates aren’t keeping pace with the Delta variant and we need to act now,” Cuomo said in a statement. “That’s why we’re requiring everyone who works in a state-run hospital and interacts with patients to get vaccinated. New York is taking its vaccination effort a step further and requiring all state employees to get the shot or be tested weekly.”

State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced Wednesday afternoon that his chamber “will be requiring vaccinations or regular testing for those not vaccinated.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced similar policies for city employees earlier this week, and suggested that the city may mandate vaccines if cases continue to rise.

As a further incentive, de Blasio said at his press conference on Wednesday that the city would offer financial incentives for people to get vaccinated.

“Here’s an announcement that I think will move a lot of people,” the mayor said. “Starting on Friday, we will provide at city run vaccination, when you get your first dose of coronavirus vaccine, you will get a $100 incentive.”

All Department of Health and clinical staff will be mandated to either be vaccinated or masked starting August 2, and 45,000 city employees in congregate or residential settings such as shelters or senior centers will be required starting August 16. The entire city workforce, including school staff, the NYPD and the FDNY will be under the mandate by September 13.

The new policy was met with mixed reviews from city unions, according to the New York Post.

“Vaccination and testing have helped keep schools among the safest places in the city,” said a spokeswoman for the United Federation of Teachers, which favors the new policy. “This approach puts the emphasis on vaccination but still allows for personal choice and provides additional safeguards through regular testing.”

The Head of District 37 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, argued that the new policies needed union input.

“If City Hall intends to test our members weekly, they must first meet us at the table to bargain,” said DC 37 executive director Henry Garrido. “While we encourage everyone to get vaccinated and support measures to ensure our members’ health and wellbeing, weekly testing is clearly subject to mandatory bargaining.”

New York has seen coronavirus cases, driven by the more infectious Delta variant, grow by 400% since June.

With reporting by the Associated Press.



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