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

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By Maria Caspani

NEW YORK, July 21 (Reuters) – As part of a national response to the threat posed by the more contagious variant of the Delta coronavirus, New York City will require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly tests for hospital workers and municipal clinics.

The new policy will take effect on August 2, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference on Wednesday. The city will suspend without pay any employee who refuses to be vaccinated or tested.

“Due to the Delta variant, the choice is more and more between infection or vaccination, and that can mean the difference between life and death,” said Dave Chokshi, city health commissioner, at the same. briefing.

About 60% of the more than 42,000 employees of New York’s public hospital system are vaccinated, said Mitch Katz, who heads the nation’s largest public health system, on Wednesday. In New York City, 70% of hospital staff received both doses of the vaccine, according to state data.

The percentage of employees at New York’s public hospitals who are fully immunized is also lower than the percentage of the city’s adult population, which stands at 65%, according to city health data.

The demand marks the first time that city hall has imposed vaccinations or negative tests on public sector workers.

In California, San Francisco took more decisive action last month when it announced that all city workers in “high-risk” settings such as homeless shelters and prisons will need to be vaccinated by now. September 15.

De Blasio said New York could take additional action if the threat posed by the Delta variant grows. He did not rule out extending vaccination or testing requirements to all workers in the city in the future.

The highly contagious Delta variant which originated in India and has now become the dominant strain worldwide has taken its toll among the country’s unvaccinated population in recent weeks.

United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky said last week that 97% of people entering hospitals in the United States with COVID-19 are not vaccinated.

A NEW FLOW OF CASES

Dozens of hospitals and health care systems across the United States have issued vaccination requirements for their staff.

Last month, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by a group of workers at the Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas over their requirement to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

A large New Jersey medical system laid off half a dozen employees because they had not been vaccinated against COVID-19, media reported https://abcnews.go.com/Health/jersey-hospital -network-fires-supervisors- vaccinated-covid-19 / story? id = 78940886 released Tuesday.

Several states with low vaccination rates such as Utah, Arkansas and Louisiana are again facing epidemics, and some hospitals have warned 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, spokeswoman for the Houston Methodist of Texas, said in an email earlier this week. “The increase in hospital admissions is adding stress to many of our hospitals as they approach capacity. “

Coronavirus cases have nearly tripled in the past month and hospitalizations have increased by almost 40%, according to an analysis of Reuters data. Deaths, which may lag behind other indicators, fell 14% over the same period.

(Report by Maria Caspani, edited by Aurora Ellis)


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