MTA and Port Authority to Mandate Vaccines, Cuomo Urges Mandates for Teachers

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo updates New Yorkers on the state’s progress combating COVID-19, July 26. (Don Pollard/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

The MTA and Port Authority are adopting the state’s mandatory vaccine or testing policy for its employees starting Labor Day, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

“It’s controversial,” Cuomo admitted, referring to the state’s mandate for all state employees to either vaccinate or go masked and test weekly. “But it’s necessary.” Public-facing public hospital employees must be vaccinated, and the governor has urged private hospitals to make the vaccine mandatory for hospital employees.

In New York City, all city employees have the same mandate. Those that are not vaccinated not only will have to test weekly but also wear masks in their workplaces or face suspension.

“The public facing people who are in a high risk situation, I say there should be a mandatory vaccine,” he added, emphasizing that nursing home workers should be considered. “If the numbers don’t come down, I think you should consider mandatory vaccines…you know nursing homes are the high risk population…how id [the coronavirus] get into the nursing homes? It got in with an aide.”

He also said that school districts should adopt the vaccine mandate. “A teacher is in front of a classroom. How many kids does a teacher interact with during the day? 30, 40, 100, 150? That child can get the virus and go home…if the teacher doesn’t want to get vaccinated, fine. But don’t be in front of the classroom.

“Vaccine or test if you are in a CDC high risk area. I think they should say that today to the teachers in this current situation.

“If [local governments] don’t act [on vaccine mandates],” Cuomo warned, “we’re going to be where we were last year, when it becomes a statewide emergency and the state is going to have to act.”

63% of all New Yorkers 12 and up and 75% of all New Yorkers 18 and up have at least one vaccine. The number of cases, spurred by the infectious delta variant, has risen dramatically, but hospitalizations remain low.

New York City has seen a 238% rise in infections since July 1, the rise in hospitalizations was only 25%. In the second wave, in November 2020, new cases rose by 180% and hospitalizations rose 129%.

City health department statistics show that the 7-day average of hospitalizations was 29, while the 7-day average for confirmed and probable new cases was 976. There were only 2 deaths.