Cuomo Issues Vaccination Mandate for New York State Employees and Hospital Staff | Public Service News
ALBANY – Following in New York City’s footsteps, New York State is making regular COVID-19 vaccinations or testing mandatory for all state employees.
In addition, all frontline health workers in contact with patients in public hospitals must be immunized, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday.
“I think we need dramatic action to bring this situation under control,” the governor said in a virtual speech to members of the Association for a Better New York. “So in New York City and in our state hospitals, all healthcare workers who come into contact with patients should be vaccinated. There will be no testing option for healthcare workers in contact with patients.
“It’s a point of contact that could be a serious spreading event, and we want to make sure these healthcare workers are vaccinated – period,” he added.
The new rule will apply to health workers at SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Upstate, SUNY Downstate, Long Island Veterans Home at Stony Brook, Helen Hayes Hospital, SUNY College of Optometry, Montrose Veterans Home, St. Albans Veterans Home, Oxford Veterans Home and House of the Veterans of Batavia.
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 must be vaccinated or tested once a week.
Cuomo said the state is still reviewing new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding masks.
“The state is going to conduct a full review of the CDC guidelines,” he said. “I was on the phone with them this morning and I was talking to federal officials, and we are also chatting with international health experts. This is happening in other places so we can learn from it, but the CDC’s guidelines should be seriously considered by local governments where transmission rates are currently high. “
The CDC this week issued guidelines encouraging even fully vaccinated Americans to wear masks indoors in areas with high COVID-19 transmission rates.
The state reported 2,203 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, up from 275 new cases on June 28, or a month ago.
“It’s an aggressive step, and there will be a setback,” Cuomo said. “I’m going to have more conversations with the unions about this, but we know what we’re dealing with.
“… I think the unions even understand,” he added.
New York’s daily positivity rate was 2.23% on Wednesday after the state had one of the lowest infection rates in the country at 0.34% on June 23.
Health experts around the world have linked the increase to the more contagious COVID delta variant. The two-dose vaccines from Pfizer or Moderna and the single-dose coronavirus vaccines from Johnson & Johnson have been shown to be effective against the mutated virus.
“We need dramatic action to get the situation under control,” Cuomo said.
The governor encouraged counties, municipalities and local state governments to adopt the same mandate for all employees in contact with the public and to require that they be vaccinated or tested before Labor Day.
“I think we have to go, otherwise we know what’s going on,” the governor said. “We saw the movie. We were in the front row of the film. We had the highest admission price to see the COVID 1 movie. I don’t want to see the sequel.
Cuomo has relied on county and local authorities to make decisions regarding restrictions related to the pandemic since the COVID-19 state of emergency ended late last month.
An employer can require that workers receive a specific vaccine by law.
The United States Food & Drug Administration has approved the two-shot COVID vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna and the single-dose injection from Johnson & Johnson under emergency use authorization.
The vaccine cannot be legally required in schools or other private property without final approval from the FDA.
The mandate of the COVID vaccine will apply to legislative employees, including members of the state assembly and senators.
“The recent peak in the COVID-19 pandemic shows that we still have work to do to overcome this terrible health crisis,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx said in a statement on Wednesday. “In order to ensure the safety of the public and our employees, and in accordance with CDC and state guidelines, the Assembly will require regular vaccinations or testing for those who have not been vaccinated.”
The Senate will also follow all recommendations for coronavirus vaccines and testing as directed by the United States Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and state officials following the recent surge in COVID-19 infections.
“This will include mandatory vaccinations or regular testing for those who are not vaccinated,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers said on Wednesday. “We will continue to monitor the situation and make science-based decisions. Our majority remain committed to ensuring the health and safety of our workforce and our community as we work to overcome this pandemic. “
Some state employees and officials reacted indignantly to the decision on Wednesday.
Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, who represents eight towns in Livingston County, lambasted the vaccine’s mandate.
“The governor’s cheeky ultimatum that state employees should be vaccinated before Labor Day or undergo weekly testing is outrageous, unconstitutional and is more about muscle flexing than public health,” Borrello said in a statement in reaction to Wednesday’s mandate. “State officials, many of whom were on the front lines in helping New York State overcome the extraordinary challenges of the pandemic, do not deserve to be intimidated into getting vaccinated. Forcing people to take such a step against their will is a flagrant violation of our fundamental freedoms and is not backed by science.
“I hope that the unions representing state workers will stand up against this dictatorial decision and support their paying members 100%. “
The assurance of the Executive Chamber has done little to allay the frustration of some union representatives.
“It is disheartening that an administration that boasts of being NY Smart takes such drastic action without any input from individuals, it has a direct impact,” said Michael Powers, president of New York State Correctional Officers & Police Benevolent Association, in a press release. “Just a month ago, the state celebrated the lifting of restrictions with fireworks and now today’s about-face. It is time that we stop making these decisions in a vacuum and start including stakeholders. “
New York, like many other states, relaxed mask requirements for those who are fully vaccinated in May. The reversal comes as coronavirus cases increase across the country.
Cuomo’s vaccination plan is the latest in a series of measures the governor initially downplayed because they were first implemented or proposed by de Blasio before finally adopting them.
The two politicians, known for their long-standing feud, have clashed repeatedly throughout the pandemic.
Last year, as New York City became the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the United States, Cuomo bristled at the mayor’s suggestion of a lockdown before finally instituting his “New York Pause” initiative.
He also mocked de Blasio’s support for wearing masks before adopting face coverings last year.
Cuomo and de Blasio confused parents last fall as the two bicker over closing schools in areas with high infection rates and whether to use zip codes to notify residents of additional locking rules.
The governor swept away de Blasio’s postal code approach and instituted a color-coded “micro-cluster” strategy. In recent weeks, Cuomo has used zip codes to flag areas with low vaccination rates and increasing COVID infections.