New York City will require workers in city-run hospitals and health clinics to either get vaccinated or get tested weekly as officials battle a rise in COVID-19 cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.
De Blasio’s order will not apply to teachers, police officers and other city employees, but it dovetails into the city’s intense focus on vaccinations amid an increase in delta variant infections.
“We need our health care workers to be vaccinated and it’s getting dangerous with the delta variant,” de Blasio said on CNN.
The number of vaccine doses being given out daily in the city has dropped to less than 18,000, down from a peak of more than 100,000 in early April. About 65% of all adults are fully vaccinated, but the inoculation rate is around 25% among Black adults under age 45. About 45% of the workforce in the city’s public hospital system is Black.
Meanwhile, caseloads have been rising in the city for weeks and health officials say the variant makes up about 7 in 10 cases they sequence.
De Blasio said that he hoped the weekly testing rule will encourage more health care workers to get vaccinated.
The order will cover the roughly 42,000 people who work in the city’s public hospital system, which includes 11 hospitals as well as nursing homes and clinics. The policy also will cover some employees of the city’s Health Department.
San Francisco last month announced a more dramatic step of requiring city workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus when a vaccine receives full federal approval.
De Blasio did not rule out expanding the vaccinate-or-test requirement to other city workers. He said on MSNBC that health care workers are an obvious place to start, “and then from there we can take additional steps.”