New requirements for NYC health workers announced due to delta variant concerns
New requirements are on the way at New York City-run hospitals as health officials say concerns are growing over the delta variant of the coronavirus.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday morning that all city health workers will be required to either get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID testing.
The city's Health + Hospitals system does not currently have a vaccine mandate in place. It is expected to begin requiring that testing for unvaccinated staff beginning Aug. 2 as concerns over the delta variant continue to grow.
"It really is a balancing act because the health care providers, the team members are individuals. They do have their own personal rights as citizens of this country, but they also have an ethical obligation to the public and to the people that they are providing care," saud Dr. Jeanine Santelli with the American Nurses Association in New York.
For the first time since April, the COVID-19 daily average positivity rate is trending slightly upward at around 1.2%. The city says there were 400 confirmed cases in the last seven days, but deaths and hospitalizations are still decreasing. The CDC says it’s the delta variant that appears to be causing this uptick.
"The delta variant now represents 83% of sequenced cases. This is a dramatic increase, up from 50% for the week of July 3. In some parts of the country the percentage is even higher, particularly in areas of low vaccination rates," says Rochelle Walensky, CDC director.
A spokesperson for 1199 SEIU, a health care union, is commending the mayor for not making vaccination a condition of employment. The union encourages vaccinations but does not support mandating them.
The mayor says that employees who refuse to either get vaccinated or get tested will be suspended without pay.