N.Y. to Require Vaccine for State Employees, No New Mask Mandate
(Bloomberg) -- New York state plans to mandate all state employees be vaccinated or get tested regularly in an effort to stem a surge of cases linked to the contagious delta variant of the Covid-19 virus.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said he aims to work with unions to implement a policy by Labor Day and urged local governments do the same. For patient-facing health-care workers in New York state hospitals, the vaccine will be required and there won’t be a testing option, he said during a briefing Wednesday. Only 56.6% of New Yorkers are fully vaccinated, with 75% of adults in the state having received one shot.
Cuomo said he was still considering whether to institute a state-wide indoor masking mandate in lieu of revised guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday that even fully vaccinated people resume wearing masks indoors in high-transmission areas. Even so, he urged local governments to “seriously consider” the CDC guidance.
The state is doing a “full review” of the CDC guidance and is speaking with federal and international experts, Cuomo said.
Previously the CDC recommended only unvaccinated people wear masks indoors. But new “worrisome” data related to the delta variant required the agency to update the guidance for fully vaccinated Americans, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday. In rare occasions, she said, some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after getting the shots may be contagious and spread the virus to others.
In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy decided to forgo a mask mandate and instead issued what he called a “strong recommendation” on Wednesday for all people to wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status where warranted. He said the state’s metrics were trending in the wrong direction and called for “personal responsibility” to “mask up indoors when prudent.” Hospitalizations in New Jersey have increased 55% since the start of the month, to 473 on July 27, according to state data.
New York on Monday recorded 1,679 positive cases, according to the most recent state data. That compares with 275 cases on June 28. Most of the hot spots are in New York City, Cuomo said, with some high positivity areas in Long Island.
New York City earlier this week instituted a vaccine requirement for its 300,000 public workers, who will have to submit to weekly testing and wear masks indoors if they don’t get vaccinated by Sept. 13. Workers who defy the order could face dismissal without pay, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
De Blasio said he wasn’t ready to reimpose a mask mandate and stressed the importance of vaccines to fight the delta variant spread. “We got this less than 24 hours ago,” de Blasio said, referring to the CDC guidance. “Nothing compares with vaccination as to how we strategically address it.”
He also announced a new $100 cash incentive for residents who get their first Covid shot starting on July 30 at city run vaccination sites. The city recorded 929 cases on a seven-day average as of Monday, almost twice as much as the 489 reported July 13. Hospitalizations, which remain low, almost doubled in the same time span to 108 from 59. Only 54% of people are fully vaccinated in the city, which failed to reach its June goal of vaccinating 5 million residents.
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