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Cuomo issues vaccination mandate for New York state workers, hospital staffers

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 7/28/2021 Denis Slattery, New York Daily News
Andrew Cuomo wearing a suit and tie: Andrew M. Cuomo provides a COVID-19 update on June 23, 2021. © Don Pollard/TNS Andrew M. Cuomo provides a COVID-19 update on June 23, 2021.

ALBANY, N.Y. — Following in New York City's footsteps, New York state is making vaccinations or regular COVID-19 testing mandatory for all state employees.

Additionally, all patient-facing front-line health care workers in state-run hospitals must be immunized, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

“I think we need dramatic action to get control of this situation,” the governor said during a virtual address delivered to members of the Association for a Better New York. “So in New York, and in our state hospitals, all patient-facing health care workers must get vaccinated. There will be no testing option for patient-facing health care workers.

“That is a point of contact that could be a serious spreading event, and we want to make sure those health care workers are vaccinated — period,” he added.

The move comes amid fears of the highly contagious delta variant and two days after Mayor Bill de Blasio instituted similar measures for city workers. All municipal employees in the five boroughs are required to be vaccinated or get tested once a week.

Cuomo said the state is still reviewing the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new recommendations regarding masks.

“The state is going to do a full review of the CDC guidance,” he said. “I was on the phone with them this morning and I was talking to federal officials, and we’re also talking to international health experts. This is happening in other places so we can learn from that, but the CDC guidance should be seriously considered by local governments where there are currently high rates of transmission.”

The CDC issued guidance this week encouraging even fully vaccinated Americans to wear masks indoors in areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates.


Video: WH supports call for COVID vaccine mandate for U.S. medical staff (Reuters)

New York, like many other states, eased mask requirements for those who are fully vaccinated back in May. The reversal comes as coronavirus cases rise across the country.

Cuomo’s vaccination plan is the latest in a series of measures the governor initially downplayed as they were first implemented or floated by de Blasio before ultimately adopting them.

The pair of politicians, known for their yearslong feud, have butted heads time and time again throughout the pandemic.

Last year, as New York became the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S., Cuomo bristled at the mayor’s suggestion of a lockdown before eventually instituting his “New York Pause” initiative.

He similarly scoffed at de Blasio’s backing of mask-wearing before embracing face coverings last year.

Cuomo and de Blasio confused parents last fall as the two bickered over shuttering schools in areas with high infection rates and whether to use ZIP codes to inform residents of additional lock down rules.

The governor brushed off de Blasio’s ZIP code approach and instituted a color-coded “micro-cluster” strategy. In recent weeks, Cuomo has been using ZIP codes to flag areas with low vaccination rates and rising COVID infections.

On Wednesday, the governor said the state is working with unions to implement the new vaccination requirements “quickly and fairly.”

He then encouraged local governments to do the same and said it would likely fall on individual school districts to determine whether to implement a mask mandate for kids in the fall.

“If the numbers keep going up the way they’re going up — I think school districts in those affected areas should strongly consider taking more aggressive action,” he said. “It will be hard, and I understand the politics, but I also understand that if we don’t take the right actions, school can become super-spreaders in September. It will happen, we have seen it happen before.

“Trepidation and politics, that stops and feeds the virus,” he added.

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