New York City will require workers in city-run hospitals and clinics to either get vaccinated against Covid-19 or take a weekly test, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced.
The mandate will take effect on August 2, he said at a press conference on Wednesday. Workers “must show proof” they have been vaccinated, while de Blasio said he hoped the weekly testing rule would encourage more health workers to get vaccinated.
New York City is not alone in announcing a mandate for its essential workers. San Francisco last week said city workers in high-risk workplaces, such as acute care hospitals, homeless shelters and jails, would be required to be fully vaccinated by September 15, while those who were exempted would need to be tested at least once a week.
Asked on Wednesday if New York City should follow San Francisco’s more aggressive action and extend the mandate to other essential workers like police and teachers, de Blasio said “we’re going down the same kind of road and going step by step” and that officials would examine all those options.
“We had to get started in the most important place and that’s our healthcare workers,” he continued.
The mayor again pushed back when asked whether he would bring a mask mandate for the city, given the rising number of new Covid-19 cases linked to the Delta variant, that would require people to wear masks in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status. Los Angeles county has been the most prominent US city to reinstate its mask mandate, which came into effect again last weekend.
Workplace vaccination mandates are a patchwork across the US. Some states have taken steps to ban so-called “vaccine passports” or prohibit workplaces from requiring employees to be vaccinated.
Alabama’s governor in May signed a bill banning public institutions and private businesses from requiring vaccine passports, but Fort Rucker, a military base in the state, last week ordered troops to show proof they had been vaccinated so they could be exempted from wearing face masks on the grounds.
The Minneapolis branch of the Federal Reserve announced earlier this month it would require current and future employees to be fully vaccinated, making it among the first federal agencies in the US known to introduce a vaccine mandate. At least one hospital network in Missouri, a hotspot in the US for the Delta variant of Covid-19, announced that all its employees would need to be fully vaccinated by the end of September.