California and New York City said Monday that they will require their government workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or face weekly tests for the virus.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said the new rule will take effect in August, and extends to those in the medical profession. There are at least 238,000 state employees, according to the California controller’s office, and at least 2 million health care workers in the public and private sectors, according to CBS Sacramento.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said NYC’s rule applies to all municipal workers, including in the Department of Education, NYPD and the FDNY, according to CBS New York. The mandate is expected to begin September 13.
“This is about what we need to do to bring back New York City. This is about keeping people safe,” de Blasio said. “This means everybody. This means obviously everyone who works in our schools, our educators and staff. It means the NYPD, the FDNY. It means all city agencies.”
However, the rule will go into effect even sooner for two groups. The new rules begin August 2 for New York City Health + Hospital employees, along with city Health Department clinical setting workers. And on August 16, the requirement will take effect for city workers and contractors in residential and congregate care settings.
The mayor and health officials say this comes as NYC focuses on fighting the highly contagious Delta variant.
In California, about 62% of all eligible residents have been fully vaccinated. However, the state has struggled to make significant progress in recent weeks.
Infections and hospitalizations are rising, with the Delta variant now making up an estimated 80% of cases there, though the growing numbers are still far below where they were during the winter peak in California.
“An individual’s choice not to get vaccinated is now impacting the rest of us in a profound and devastating and deadly way,” Newsom said Monday in announcing the new policy.
Those without proof of vaccination will continue to be required to wear masks at work, the California governor said.
“If they’re not vaccinated and we cannot verify that they’ve been vaccinated, we are requiring that they get tested,” Newsom said, referencing state workers. “California is committed to vaccination, verification and or testing on a weekly basis. We’re not stopping just with state employees.”
Vaccinations ticked up over the weekend, with about 657,000 vaccines reported administered Saturday and nearly 780,000 on Sunday, according to CDC data cited by The Associated Press. The seven-day rolling average on Sunday was about 583,000 vaccinations a day, up from about 525,000 a week prior.