The city will require city public hospital and other health workers to get vaccinated or submit to a weekly COVID-19 test as the highly contagious Delta variant has caused the Big Apple’s positivity rate to inch upwards, Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed Wednesday.
“We’re watching the Delta variant and the impact it’s having, and it’s time for a change, it’s time for a new approach,” de Blasio said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
“What we’re doing is [a] mandate for the folks who work in our public hospitals and clinics. They need to be safe, the people they serve need to be safe, so we’re saying, get vaccinated, or get tested once every week.
“It’s a fair choice,” he added.
The mayor’s mandate confirmation comes after The Post reported Tuesday that employees who work at the city’s public hospital and health clinic systems have a choice of being vaccinated for COVID-19 or to once a week get tested for the virus.
De Blasio said that after months of luring New Yorkers to vaccine sites with “amazing” perks like free hotel stays, museum vaccination sites and tickets to NBA playoff games, “it’s time for something more focused.”
“We’ve given amazing incentives,” the mayor said. “You could have gotten vaccinated, under the blue whale at the Museum of Natural History, you name it, we came up with every bell and whistle, and that’s been great. But it’s time for something more focused.”
Asked why he’s not outright requiring health workers to be inoculated, the mayor responded, “We want to keep moving this in phases as much as possible, getting more and more people acclimated to vaccination,” and decried the spread of anti-COVID-19 vaccination “misinformation.”
Meanwhile, de Blasio kept the door open to expanding similar COVID-19 precaution requirements in the future to other city workers such as teachers, firefighters and police — but wouldn’t commit to any specific measures or a timetable for them.
“We’re going to look at different options. I think this is the most obvious one, the people who are the most vulnerable are health care workers and who serve the most vulnerable people who go to the hospital or a clinic,” de Blasio told CNN’s John Avlon on “New Day.”
“I do think it makes sense to then go look at the other possibilities, and keep going up the ladder.”
“If, thankfully, people get vaccinated and Delta variant is pushed back, that’s a good news story,” de Blasio said on MSNBC. “If people don’t get vaccinated and Delta grows, I think a lot of people will come to the conclusion, rightfully, that we might have to be more aggressive.”
“But what we’re trying to do today is say, let’s start with the most obvious piece of the equation — health care,” he added. “Let’s right there, go to work, and then from there we can take additional steps.”
Health officials have warned of an increase in cases since June as the Delta variant, first found in December in India, has emerged in New York City. But many New Yorkers remain unvaccinated, including about one-third of New York City hospital workers.
Despite the recent spread of the Delta variant, the mayor has said an indoor mask mandate is not yet necessary.
Additional reporting by Amanda Woods