NYC to Force Covid Vaccine or Tests for City Health Workers

New York City will begin requiring Covid-19 vaccinations or weekly testing of all workers in its public hospitals and clinics in an attempt to slow an increase in cases.

“We need a strong, clear approach,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday during a press briefing. “This is about keeping people safe and stopping the delta variant.”

The highly contagious delta variant, first identified in India, now makes up 69% of tested cases in New York City, data show. Delta has driven a recent increase in cases, especially among the unvaccinated.

The city reported a seven-day average of 597 confirmed and probable cases on July 19, double the level on July 6. Meanwhile, the city’s vaccine administration rate has plunged to less than 15,000 a day, from more than 100,000 a day in mid-April.

About 60% of the city’s more than 42,000 public hospital employees have been vaccinated, according to Mitchell Katz, president and chief executive officer of the system. Citywide, 65% of all adults have received their shots.

“It’s time for us to take additional steps to keep patients safe and to keep each other safe,” Katz said.

The city has fully vaccinated 4.5 million residents, data show, falling short of the mayor’s goal of having 5 million New Yorkers fully vaccinated by June.

The vaccine-or-testing requirement will take effect Aug. 2. De Blasio said city officials are weighing whether to extend the policy to other city employees, including teachers and emergency personnel.

“This is something we do piece by piece, but this is the wave of the future, in my view,” de Blasio said Wednesday on MSNBC. “Starting with our health-care workers here’s a very fair choice. I think it will move a lot of people to get vaccinated, and others over time.”

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