State employees in New York will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or to submit to weekly testing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday, as cases of the viral infection continue to rise nationwide.
The governor said state officials are working with unions “to implement this program quickly and fairly” with the goal of requiring the shots for state workers by Labor Day.
“Vaccination or weekly testing will help protect employees’ health as the Delta variant spreads,” Cuomo wrote Wednesday in a social media post. “I encourage all local governments to follow suit.”
Cuomo’s announcement came two days after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all city government employees will be required to be vaccinated or to get tested weekly beginning Sept. 13. That same day, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said state and health care workers across California will be required beginning next month to get vaccinated or to submit to weekly or bi-weekly COVID-19 testing.
Cuomo said at a news conference Wednesday that officials in the state will go further in its effort to curb the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant, which in recent weeks has accounted for more than 80% of all new COVID-19 cases nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I think we need dramatic action to take control of this situation,” Cuomo said Wednesday at a news conference. “So, New York and our state hospitals – all patient-facing health care workers must get vaccinated. There will be not testing option for patient-facing health care workers. That is a point of contact that could be a serious spreading event and we want to make sure that those health care workers are vaccinated. Period.”
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced that COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory for most of its health care workers beginning in September.
The measures come as officials continue to search for ways to convince skeptical Americans to get their vaccines. Nationwide, 69% of all adults have received at least one vaccine dose as of Tuesday, according to data from the CDC. About 49% of the total U.S. population has been fully vaccinated.
The United States leads the world with the most coronavirus cases and the highest death toll. Since the start of the pandemic, officials have confirmed more than 34.6 million infections and reported more than 611,000 deaths nationwide, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
More than 195.5 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, resulting in 4.1 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
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