Photo by Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit
In a press conference this morning, Governor Cuomo announced that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will mandate COVID-19 vaccines or weekly testing for employees on the New York side. The protocol will go into effect starting Labor Day. “We beat the damn thing by being smart the first time. Be smart again,” said the governor. This mandate joins a growing number that includes all state workers and all NYC municipal workers, including teachers and NYPD/FDNY members.
The governor’s announcement comes as the Delta variant continues to cause a rise in Covid cases among both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. On July 1, New York State had 506 new coronavirus cases; on August 1, there were 2,143 new cases. Likewise, on July 1, 349 New Yorkers were hospitalized, and on August 1, 788.
The governor did provide data that shows vaccinated people are less likely to catch the virus and are unlikely to be hospitalized.
For the week of 7/19, the infection rate in New York was:
- Among fully vaccinated: 4 per 100,000
- Among unvaccinated: 17 per 100,000
For the week of 7/19, the hospitalization rate in New York was:
- Among fully vaccinated: .19 per 100,000
- Among unvaccinated: 1.25 per 100,000
As of today, 75.5 percent of New Yorkers are vaccinated, but the 24.5 percent of unvaccinated amount to 3.5 million people. If the Delta variant continues to spread rapidly and mutate, this could become an extremely dangerous situation. The majority of new Covid cases in the country are now Delta, and new research shows that vaccinated people can spread it. This led the CDC to change their recommendations for indoor mask-wearing last week.
All counties in New York City are considered by the CDC areas of high or substantial transmission and therefore are urged to resume indoor mask-wearing. Today, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi put out guidance that recommends even vaccinated New Yorkers start to once again wear masks in public indoor settings.
“Everybody is talking about mask policies right now, but I don’t believe a mask policy is going to be enough – we need to talk about a vaccination policy,” Governor Cuomo said. “We’ve taken the first step by mandating that all state employees get the vaccine or get tested weekly, and we’re expanding on that by requiring all MTA and Port Authority workers to do so as well. The state is leading the way, but local governments, schools, public hospitals and even businesses should start considering mandatory vaccinations as well because if these numbers start to rise quickly, we can’t afford to go backward and lose the progress we’ve already made.”
The new MTA and Port Authority mandates go into effect beginning Labor Day. For the Port Authority, it only applies to those employees reporting to work on the New York side. Just like the mandates for all New York State and City employees, the protocol says that those choosing not to be vaccinated must take a weekly Covid test.
The MTA, which lost 168 employees to the virus, says 70 percent of their current workforce is vaccinated. To bring this number up, MTA vaccination sites will reopen for employees. In addition, nine new vaccination sites will open in areas with high concentrations of state employees.
- The CDC recommends all of New York City should wear masks indoors again
- All Broadway theaters will require vaccinations for audiences and actors
- New York orders all state workers to be vaccinated or tested regularly