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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Cities

Covid-19 vaccine

By Peter Szekely and Brendan O'Brien

NEW YORK (Reuters) -New York City declared on Monday that all private-sector employers must implement COVID-19 vaccine mandates for their workers, as the highly transmissible Omicron variant has spread to at least one-third of U.S. states.

The biggest U.S. city set a December 27 deadline for all 184,000 businesses within its limits to make their employees show proof that they have been vaccinated.

In addition, children 5 to 11 years old must get at least one vaccine dose by Dec. 14 to enter restaurants and to participate in extracurricular school activities, such as sports, band, orchestra and dance, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

"Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic, and these are bold, first-in-the-nation measures to encourage New Yorkers to keep themselves and their communities safe,” de Blasio, who leaves office next month, said in a statement.

De Blasio's successor, Eric Adams, “will evaluate this mandate and other COVID strategies when he is in office and make determinations based on science, efficacy and the advice of health professionals,” said his spokesperson Evan Thies.

About 27 percent of children ages five to 12 have gotten at least one dose and 15 percent are fully vaccinated, according to the city's website.

The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce said it supported the expanded mandate.

The requirements come at a time when new coronavirus infections are accelerating nationwide https://tmsnrt.rs/2WTOZDR, especially in northern states, as colder weather has encouraged more mingling and socializing indoors.

Over the last week, the country has averaged more than 120,000 new infections a day, up 64% from the prior week, according to a Reuters tally.

Deaths, which lag infections, have averaged 1,300 a day over the last seven days, up from an average of 800 a day a week ago, according to Reuters data.

The Delta variant still accounts for 99.9 percent of new COVID cases in the United States, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told ABC News on Sunday.

Omicron, first detected last month in southern Africa, has spread around the globe and shows signs of being more contagious than the Delta variant.

A total of several dozen Omicron cases have been found in 18 out of 50 U.S. states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin, according to a Reuters tally.

Louisiana has also reported a probable Omicron case in a crew member on a cruise ship that disembarked in New Orleans over the weekend. At least 17 COVID-19 cases were detected on the ship and more testing is underway, state health officials said.

Several Wall Street banks headquartered in New York, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, already require vaccines for anyone coming into their offices. JPMorgan Chase & Co, the largest U.S. bank, has so far allowed unvaccinated employees to come to work in offices if they submit to twice-weekly COVID-19 tests.

Alphabet Inc's Google and Meta's Facebook, which also have operations in New York City, also already require all U.S. employees to be vaccinated to enter buildings.

A nationwide vaccine mandate issued earlier this year by President Joe Biden for companies with 100 workers or more has been tied up in litigation. In November, a U.S. appeals court upheld its decision to put on hold the order.

De Blasio, noting that the city has already issued mandates covering several other sets of municipal workers, expressed confidence that his latest order would withstand legal scrutiny.

"We are confident because it's universal," he said on MSNBC.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York and Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Additional reporting by Elizabeth Dilts in New York, Susan Heavey in Washington and Barbara Goldberg in Maplewood, New Jersey; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Lisa Shumaker)

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An ad outside a subway station in New York City calls for people to get vaccinated against Covid-19

New York (AFP) - New York City will require all municipal workers to get vaccinated against coronavirus or take a weekly test, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday as the Delta variant fuels an uptick in cases in the metropolis.

The order will go into effect from September 13 and will apply to more than 300,000 city personnel, including police officers, fire fighters and teachers.

"This is about our recovery. This is about keeping people safe," de Blasio told a press conference.

The move comes after the mayor announced last week that the city's 30,000 public hospital workers would need to get vaccinated or face weekly testing from August 2.

The measure announced Monday is the most stringent measure taken so far in the US megacity to boost vaccination rates following a campaign based on voluntary participation and incentives.

In New York, 59 percent of the entire population has received at least one dose of a vaccine against Covid-19 but the speed of injections has slowed.

Controversy is building in the United States over what steps should be taken to increase vaccination rates against the Delta variant, which accounts for more than 89 percent of US infections, according to estimates.

Many health officials are pushing to make vaccination mandatory, at least for certain segments of the population.

On Monday, 57 medical groups representing millions of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health workers called for mandatory vaccinations for all health staff.

"The health and safety of US workers, families, communities, and the nation depends on it," said the statement, whose signatories included the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association.

Several Republican-led states have instead passed laws banning coercive measures, though, particularly in schools.

The September 13 date will coincide with the return of one million students to New York's public schools for the new academic year.