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Public workers must receive the vaccine or submit to weekly testing starting Sept. 13, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday. California Gov. Gavin Newsom made a similar statement.
Municipal workers in New York City must receive the Covid-19 vaccination or undergo weekly testing by the time schools reopen on Sept. 13, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.
“This is about our recovery,” de Blasio said at a press briefing. “This is about what we need to do to bring back New York City. This is about keeping people safe. This is about making sure our families get through Covid OK. This is about bringing back jobs. You name it.”
Unvaccinated workers will also be required to wear masks indoors, beginning next Monday. Workers can opt out of that mandate by presenting proof of vaccination, he said.
The announcement will affect more than 325,000 employees, including teachers, firefighters and police officers. The measure is similar to other recent policy changes announced by the mayor, including a vaccine mandate for public health workers and repeated urging for private employers to require vaccines for employees.
De Blasio repeated that plea Monday. "Each private sector employer needs to do what they believe is right,” he said. “But I would strongly urge a vaccination mandate...or as close to it as possible.”
California Announces Same Measure
Hours after de Blasio’s announcement, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a similar measure, saying that state employees and public health workers would be required to receive the vaccine.
“As the state’s largest employer—we’re leading by example. Vaccines are the solution,” he said on Twitter. “We encourage local governments and other businesses to follow suit. ... We’re experiencing a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Everyone that can get vaccinated—should."
The new requirement applies to about 246,000 state employees and many more health care workers, The New York Times reported. Departments are expected to start verifying workers' vaccination status by Aug. 2, while the verification program for health care workers will go into effect on Aug. 9.
San Francisco and several Bay Area counties also have recently announced similar mandates.
De Blasio said his decision was made without consulting with all of the city’s municipal labor unions. At least one—the United Federation of Teachers—told The New York Times that it approved.
“This approach puts the emphasis on vaccination, but still allows for personal choice and provides additional safeguards through regular testing,” Alison Gendar, a spokeswoman for the organization, told the newspaper in a statement.
The mayor said the new policies are necessary due to the surge of the more-contagious Delta variant. The number of daily coronavirus cases has more than doubled in the last 11 days, according to data from the city, while only 54% of residents are fully vaccinated. In California, cases have also spiked in the last month, rising from a seven-day average of 1.2 cases per 100,000 people on July 2 to 16.2 on Sunday. Just over 62% of California residents are fully vaccinated, according to data from the state.
“If someone is unvaccinated, unfortunately, they pose a threat to themselves, but they also have a greater chance of spreading the disease,” de Blasio said. “This is when we have to make the difference.”
Kate Elizabeth Queram is a senior reporter for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.