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New York City will require all of its city workers – including teachers and police officers – to get vaccinated against the coronavirus by mid-September or undergo weekly tests for COVID-19, the mayor said on Monday. Bill de Blasio.
The rule is expected to affect about 340,000 city employees, making the city one of the largest employers in the United States to take such action. While this is not a mandate to vaccinate – no worker will be forced to be vaccinated – officials hope the inconvenience and discomfort of weekly testing will persuade many to overcome their reluctance to be vaccinated. vaccinate.“This is about our recovery. It’s about what we need to do to bring New York City back, ”said de Blasio. “It’s about keeping people safe. “
The September 13 deadline coincides with the start of public school, when the Democratic mayor said he expects all students to be in classrooms full-time. City health care workers and workers at gathering places such as group homes will face shorter deadlines.
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The move comes as the city battles an increase in COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly contagious delta variant. Since the end of June, the daily average of new cases has increased by more than 300%.
Last week, the city announced it was making vaccinations or weekly tests mandatory for workers in the city’s hospital system.
De Blasio widened the requirement on Monday and urged private employers to adopt similar rules.
“My message to the private sector is: go as far as you can go now,” the mayor said. “I would highly recommend a warrant of vaccination whenever possible, or as close to it as possible. “
“New York is a union city”
Unions representing municipal workers have offered mixed responses to the new mandate affecting their members.
“Vaccination and testing have helped keep schools among the safest places in the city,” the United Teachers’ Federation said in a statement. “This approach emphasizes vaccination but still allows for personal choice and provides additional guarantees through regular testing. “
But Henry Garrido, executive director of District Council 37 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, said, “If City Hall intends to test our members weekly, they need to get us first. meet at the table to negotiate. “
Garrido, whose union represents about 100,000 New York City employees in several departments, said weekly tests are subject to mandatory negotiation.
“New York City is a union city and it cannot be ignored,” he said in a statement.
Asked about Garrido’s statement, de Blasio said the city had the right to require its workforce to be vaccinated or tested.
“When it comes to the health and safety of our workers in the midst of a global pandemic, we have the right, as employers, to take urgent action to protect people’s health, to protect their lives,” did he declare.
The number of vaccine doses administered daily in the city fell to less than 18,000, from a peak of more than 100,000 in early April. About 65% of the city’s adults are fully immunized.
Meanwhile, the number of cases has been increasing for weeks and health officials say the variant accounts for around seven out of 10 new cases.
De Blasio said he has no plans to re-impose a broad indoor mask mandate, as Los Angeles County has done. Masks are mandatory in certain contexts such as public transport.
De Blasio said unvaccinated city workers will be required to wear masks indoors at all times.