Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration is launching a massive new weekly coronavirus testing program for the thousands of state workers expected to refuse to get vaccinated by the Oct. 12 deadline, The Post has learned.
While all state and private healthcare employees in New York have to receive at least one COVID-19 shot by Monday or face being fired, state workers in other jobs have the option of either getting vaccinated or tested weekly starting by that date.
It’s the same day that the non-healthcare state workers have to return to the office for in-person work.
The department is now accepting bids for labs and other medical providers to arrange for the weekly-testing component, which will include home-collection kits.
The bid proposal says contractors should provide home-testing kits to workers as well as in-person testing at select sites throughout the state.
There are 116,000 non-healthcare employees at state agencies — and the winning bidders should have the ability to provide a total of approximately “thirty-six thousand testing kits” weekly, state officials say.
“All New York State employees (outside of state healthcare facility staff) have to be vaccinated by October 12 or undergo weekly COVID testing. The solicitation is for a vendor to provide that testing,” Health Department spokeswoman Jill Montag told The Post in a statement.
The winning bidder for the contract has not been awarded yet.
The Civil Service Employees Association – -the union representing the largest number of state government workers — supports the vaccine-or-test option, as long as it has a say in its implementation.
“CSEA has been very supportive of vaccinate-or-test options but believes that the impact of them must be negotiated,” said union spokesman Mark Kotzin.
According to the DOH’s bid request, “The purpose of this solicitation of interest is to engage qualified vendors to embrace the State’s vision of establishing a comprehensive testing protocol to assist with maintaining a safe work environment.”
The contractors will be obligated to arrange for the delivery and collection of home-testing kits, which would include getting the self-collected specimens from a worker’s home and transporting them to testing facilities.
Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the vaccine-or-testing mandate in late July amid a spike in coronavirus cases linked to the contagious delta variant, weeks before he resigned.
It is unclear how many state government workers outside of hospitals and nursing homes and other congregate settings are not vaccinated.
The Health Department does not publicly post vaccination rates for state government workers, as it does for the general population or for workers in hospitals and nursing homes.
But about 83 percent of adults in New York State have received at one least one dose of the vaccine, and 75 percent have completed their vaccine series.
Meanwhile, Hochul is following through on another stricter edict requiring workers in hospitals and nursing homes to receive their first vaccine shot by Monday — or face suspension or dismissal.
“Healthcare providers, state employed or other, do not have a test out option because of the vulnerability of the populations they work with,” the DOH’s Montag said.
The vaccination rate is 84 percent for hospital workers statewide, and 87 percent for nursing-home staffers.
A spokesperson for the governor’s Office of Employee Relations responded, “The State is currently identifying the number of State employees who will be fully vaccinated by the program start date to determine how many partially vaccinated and unvaccinated employees will need to be tested on a weekly basis.
“Over the coming weeks, we will be working closely with the respective unions to inform them of the program details, ensure a smooth implementation, and continue to protect our workforce and the public it has served throughout the pandemic.”
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