It’s not over. New York’s fight against the COVID-19 virus continues and new rules are coming to assist in that battle.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has again revised its guidance to address surging infection rates attributed to the dangerous delta variant. Most new infections are among the unvaccinated with the southern part of the country seeing the most significant spikes in cases and hospitalizations.
But “breakthrough cases” – those in which fully vaccinated people become infected with the virus – caused the CDC to rethink its previous mask recommendations, and it’s now urging individuals to wear masks in public indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status.
Nearly 75% of New York State’s population over eighteen years of age received at least one vaccine dose with 68% in this group fully vaccinated. Those numbers drop a bit when the under 18 population is factored in. 62% of all New Yorkers are in receipt of at least one dose and approximately 57% are fully vaccinated. However, New York’s vaccinations are above the national average. “Fewer than 50 percent of the country is fully vaccinated,” according to federal data, the New York Times reports.
With new infections rising 400% since the end of June statewide, according to CBS, Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bill De Blasio both appear eager to stop further increases – though they’re still debating whether to reinstitute an indoor mask wearing mandate.
Starting next week, all unvaccinated city workers will be required to wear a mask indoors at all times. Those who refuse will be sent home without pay. All unvaccinated workers will be required to get tested weekly beginning September 13. These new rules are “expected to affect about 340,000 city employees, making the city one of the largest employers in the U.S. to take such action.”
Notably, these mandates will apply to all teachers as well as members of the FDNY and NYPD, the latter of which has five officers currently hospitalized. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea reported that “some [of the hospitalized officers are in] quite serious condition, and all unvaccinated.”
Governor Cuomo is intent on implementing a similar approach statewide, noting that he is working with unions to implement a mandatory vaccination or weekly testing policy by Labor Day. Patient-facing healthcare workers at state-owned hospitals will be required to get vaccinated without the option of testing weekly.
And starting July 30, anyone who receives their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination at a city-run vaccination site will receive $100.