All health care workers in New York will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced Monday, citing the threat of the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus.
“The delta variant is spreading across the nation and across New York ― new daily positives are up over 1000% over the last six weeks, and over 80 percent of recent positives in New York State are linked to the delta variant,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We must now act again to stop the spread. Our healthcare heroes led the battle against the virus, and now we need them to lead the battle between the variant and the vaccine.”
The decision will affect more than 600,000 workers in hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities, among other sites. The employees will be required to get at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 27.
About 75% of hospital workers, 74% of adult care facility workers and 68% of nursing home workers have been fully vaccinated in New York.
Cuomo’s office said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) had been briefed on the matter. She will succeed him later this month following his resignation amid a series of sexual misconduct allegations. The New York Times added that it was unclear if the mandate would supersede a more lenient “vaccinate or test weekly” requirement in New York City issued by Mayor Bill de Blasio last month.
State and federal officials have taken increased action to try to quash new infections, which are rising in every state in the nation. Several states have issued similar mandates for health care workers, and others have reinstated mask mandates and social distancing measures in an attempt to halt a dramatic surge in cases.
Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent severe illness or death associated with COVID-19, and all three of the inoculations offered in the U.S. are effective against the delta variant. Almost all deaths associated with the pandemic are now among unvaccinated Americans, prompting concern as millions of eligible adults are yet to receive a jab.
President Joe Biden is also expected to recommend Americans receive booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines around eight months after their inoculations to ensure lasting protection against the coronavirus.
Cuomo on Monday also hinted that further mandates could be established that would encompass school districts and private businesses.
“I have strongly urged private businesses to implement vaccinated-only admission policies, and school districts to mandate vaccinations for teachers,” he said. “Neither will occur without the state legally mandating the actions ― private businesses will not enforce a vaccine mandate unless it’s the law, and local school districts will be hesitant to make these challenging decisions without legal direction.”