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New York City requires health workers to be vaccinated or get tested weekly


NEW YORK: As part of a national response to the threat posed by the most contagious variant of the Delta coronavirus, New York City will require Covid-19 vaccinations or weekly testing for workers in city-run hospitals and clinics.
The new policy will go into effect on August 2, Mayor Bill by Blasio he said at a press conference on Wednesday. The city will suspend without pay any employee who refuses to get vaccinated or tested.
“Because of the Delta variant, the choice is increasingly between infection or vaccination, and that can mean the difference between life and death,” Dave Chokshi, the city’s health commissioner, said at the same briefing.
About 60% of the more than 42,000 employees in New York City’s public hospital system are vaccinated, Mitch Katz, who runs the nation’s largest public health system, said Wednesday. Across New York City, 70% of hospital staff have received both doses of the vaccine, state data shows.
The percentage of New York public hospital workers who are fully vaccinated is also lower than the percentage of the city’s adult population, which stands at 65%, city health data shows.
Requirement marks the first time Municipality has required vaccinations or negative tests for public sector workers.
In California, San Francisco took more decisive action last month when it announced that all municipal workers in “high-risk” settings, such as homeless shelters and jails, will need to be vaccinated by Sept. 15.
De Blasio said New York could take more action if the threat posed by the Delta variant grows. He did not rule out extending vaccination or testing requirements to all city workers in the future.
The highly contagious Delta variant that originated in India and has now become the dominant strain worldwide, has wreaked havoc among the country’s unvaccinated population in recent weeks.
U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said last week that 97% of people who enter hospitals in the United States with Covid-19 are not vaccinated.
A new influx of cases
Dozens of hospitals and health systems in the United States have issued vaccination requirements for their staff.
Last month, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of workers in Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas about their requirement that they be vaccinated against Covid-19.
A large medical system in New Jersey laid off half a dozen employees because they did not get vaccinated against COVID-19, according to media reports published Tuesday.
Several states with low vaccination rates, such as Utah, Arkansas and Louisiana, are once again facing outbreaks, with some hospitals warning they are overwhelmed by the influx of Covid-19 patients.
“We have an alarming increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the Houston area,” Patti Muck, a spokeswoman for the Houston Methodist of Texas, said in an email earlier this week. “Increasing hospitalizations add stress to many of our hospitals that are approaching capacity.”
Coronavirus cases have nearly tripled in the past month and hospitalizations have risen nearly 40%, according to an analysis by Reuters data. Deaths, which may lag behind other indicators, were down 14% over the same time period.

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