New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that beginning September 13th (the first day of school), all city employees must provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination or be subjected to weekly Covid-19 tests. In advance of this, NYC is mandating 45,000 City workers and contractors in residential and congregate care settings by August 16th. Both of these recent mandates are in addition to the Health Worker COVID-Safe Requirement the Mayor announced last week, requiring NYC Health + Hospitals employees and those working in Department of Health and Mental Hygiene clinical settings to provide either a one-time verification of immunization, or weekly proof of a negative Covid-19 test by August 2nd.
Nearly five million NYC residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but the speed of inoculations has slowed. Two million adult New Yorkers are still unvaccinated and there is urgency to get those vaccination numbers up as the delta variant surges. Most of the municipal unions are not fully on board yet but that’s too damn bad. The department of education said around 60 percent of their employees are vaccinated, the police department is around an abysmal 43 percent, and fire department is around 55 percent. This new mandate should get the numbers up to more acceptable rates.
The mayor also called for the private sector to enact vaccine and test mandates at their offices, workplaces, stores, and restaurants. The more contagious Delta variant has changed the equation for employers. Kathryn Wylde, the president of the Partnership for New York City trade group, told DealBook (The New York Times) that about a quarter of companies surveyed by the group said they would require employees returning to the office to be vaccinated. The seven-day average of new cases in NYC rose to 837 on July 24. The positivity rate rose to 2.35 percent, up from below 1 percent earlier this month, although hospitalization and death counts remain low.
Further, in a reversal from earlier this Spring, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC) is recommending that people vaccinated for the coronavirus resume wearing masks indoors in certain areas of the country. The vaccines remain effective against the worst outcomes of infection with the virus, including those involving the Delta variant but a rise in breakthrough cases and surging infections caused the CDC to change course on mask guidance.