Coronavirus: NYC government employees will be required to be vaccinated or get tested weekly

NEW YORK CITY — Government employees in New York City will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or to submit to weekly testing as the highly transmissible delta variant continues to drive infection rates up, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.

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The policy will go into effect Sept. 13, on the first full day students are set to return to classrooms in the city.

“This means everybody,” de Blasio said Monday at a news conference. “This means, obviously, everyone who works in our schools, our educators and staff. It means the NYPD, the FDNY – it means all city agencies. It means people who work in offices and people who work on the front line – everyone. Because September is when the rubber hits the road, and this is when we have to make the difference.”

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The effort is aimed at encouraging more people across the city to get vaccinated. Health officials said that as of Monday, about 71% of New York City’s adults had gotten at least one dose of the available COVID-19 vaccines, including 54% of the total population that has so far been fully vaccinated. Nationwide, 69% of all adults had received at least one vaccine dose as of Sunday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 50% of the total U.S. population has been fully vaccinated.

“This is about our recovery,” de Blasio said Monday. “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.”

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Previously, de Blasio and other city officials announced that employees of the NYC Health + Hospitals and employees working in clinical settings for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene would be required to get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing beginning Aug. 2. Authorities also said 45,000 city government employees who work in congregate or residential settings would be required to get vaccinated or tested weekly beginning Aug. 16.

Officials including CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky have pointed to continued vaccine holdouts as the culprits for a spike in reported COVID-19 cases seen nationwide in recent weeks.

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“This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Walensky said earlier this month. “We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk and communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well.”

More than 969,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported across New York City, resulting in more than 33,500 deaths, according to the NYC Health Department.

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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 34.4 million infections and reported more than 610,000 deaths nationwide, according to numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

More than 194.3 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, resulting in 4.1 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.