New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that state employees will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, or will need to be tested regularly.
During a meeting with the Association for a Better New York on Wednesday, the governor said the New York state “will mandate all state employees either be vaccinated or get tested regularly.”
However, he said all “patient-facing” health care workers across the state will be required to be vaccinated and will not have the testing option.
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“We are working with the state unions to implement this program quickly & fairly,” Cuomo tweeted. “Will take effect by Labor Day.”
“So New York, our state hospitals, all patient facing health care workers must get vaccinated,” Cuomo said. “There will be no testing option for patient-facing health care workers.”
He added: “That is a point of contact that could be a very serious spreading event and we want to make sure that those health care workers are vaccinated. Period.”
“I think we need dramatic action to get control of this situation,” Cuomo said, referring to the prominence of the delta variant of COVID-19 in the U.S.
Cuomo’s announcement comes as President Biden mulls over whether to require all federal employees to be vaccinated.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, on Monday, became the first agency in the federal government to announce that it will require patient-facing employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Last week, during a White House press briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki suggested that every White House official had been offered a COVID-19 vaccine, but clarified Friday that the White House was not requiring officials to be vaccinated.
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“No, we have not mandated it,” Psaki responded, after being asked whether the administration was mandating White House staff receive a coronavirus vaccine.
Psaki did not provide a specific number of how many White House officials have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, but said that they are able to track the number of individuals on the president’s staff because “they are vaccinated here in the White House medical unit.”
Despite some concern over vaccine mandates, the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel this week determined that federal law does not prohibit public agencies and private businesses from requiring COVID-19 vaccines that are under emergency use authorization (EUA).
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The opinion notes that some have questioned whether such entities can lawfully impose such requirements.
In the opinion, the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel says the law concerning emergency use authorizations “does not prohibit public or private entities from imposing vaccine requirements, even when the only vaccines available are those authorized under EUAs.”
According to the CDC, more than 163 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, while more than 188 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine.