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De Blasio: New Mask Guidance In NYC May Come Monday As More Places Require Vaccinations Or Weekly Testing

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - President Joe Biden announced new COVID vaccination rules for federal workers Thursday.

It's just the latest effort amid concerns about the Delta variant.

Scientists at a lab in Nutley, New Jersey, screen for positive viral samples from local patients. They say if COVID had its own kingdom, Delta would be king.

"You can see that with each successive week, the prevalence of Delta in our samples increases by almost 10%, such that the samples that we just screened yesterday, which were last week's samples, 100% of them were Delta," said Jose Mediavilla, with the Center for Discovery and Innovation.

The highly contagious kind of COVID is driving a summer surge in the virus nationwide and in the Tri-State Area.

"What it wants to do is to be able to find, as fast as it can, more and more unvaccinated people ... That's how it's gonna survive," research scientist Dr. Barry Kreiswirth told CBS2's Jessica Layton.

That's why Kreiswirth says in more cases than not, vaccination shouldn't be optional anymore.

"It's being very selfish," he said. "When you're hurting other people, it's a little beyond your own civil liberties."

As CBS2's Andrea Grymes reports, the president on Thursday laid out new requirements for 2.1 million federal workers and contractors. They'll be required to show proof of vaccination or submit to regular testing.

Facebook and Google are taking it even further. Both companies announced all employees must be vaccinated to come back to the office, unless they have a medical exemption.

"I think a lot of companies are going to follow suit, very quickly. And a lot of companies are doing this, I think, one of the things we've seen since the beginning of the pandemic, is that the tech companies in general have been ahead of everybody else," said Nicholas Thompson, CEO of The Atlantic.


The Actors' Equity Association and the Broadway League have announced that those working in the Broadway industry will be required to get the shot.

Thursday morning, New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer, behind hot spots including Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern, is requiring all staffers and diners inside his restaurants to be vaccinated, starting Sept. 7.

"We feel like we've got an amazing responsibility to keep our staff members and our guests safe, and that's what we're gonna do," Meyer said.

Most diners who spoke to CBS2's Alice Gainer are fine with the move.

"If everyone just got vaccinated, we wouldn't have an issue anyway," Rachel Taylor said.

One man, though vaccinated himself, said he thinks the requirement is too much.

"I think there's people that do have an issue with it, maybe for health reasons, for personal reasons, religious reasons," Pete Banos said.

One woman was proudly wearing her vaccination status on a t-shirt for all to see.

"Personal preference has nothing to do with safety," she said.

Watch Alice Gainer's report --

Some say they doubt restaurants in zip codes with low vaccination rates will realistically be able to do this.

"If you're in a community like Staten Island or the Bronx where not many people are getting vaccinated, doing this could turn away your business," one man said.

"This is a major step by a major employer here in this city, sending a message," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

That message, the mayor says, is for the unvaccinated.

"They're not gonna have an opportunity to do a lot of things that they want to do because more and more, it's gonna be only for vaccinated people," he said.

The latest seven day average in the city shows 976 confirmed or probable COVID cases, and 29 people hospitalized - numbers that are rising. Seventy one percent of city adults have at least one dose of the vaccine.

On Thursday, the mayor reiterated his concern about the Delta variant, and teased he'll update the city's mask guidance Monday.

"We want to make sure we're very precise about it. I still want to be very clear that for folks who are vaccinated, that they need to have every opportunity to benefit from vaccination," de Blasio said.


Twitter is not taking any chances. The company announced it's closing its recently reopened offices in Manhattan and San Francisco.

In Westchester, the New Rochelle city manager just announced they will require all municipal workers to submit proof of vaccination or undergo weekly COVID testing starting Sept. 8.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says all state workers must be vaccinated, or get weekly testing, although getting the shot is mandatory for frontline workers at state-owned hospitals.

"There will be no testing option," Cuomo said.

De Blasio's latest incentive to the vaccine hesitant starts Friday.

"One hundred dollars for any New Yorker who goes to a city-run site to get vaccinated," de Blasio said.

Watch Andrea Grymes' report -- 

As for those zip codes still showing vaccine hesitancy, the city says it's continuing to send mobile units.

"We're working particularly with health care providers, the clinicians that people know and trust in those neighborhoods," New York City health commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said.

Over in New Jersey, the governor is urging indoor masking but not mandating it.

"I know it's not necessarily popular, but it's the right thing to do," Gov. Phil Murphy said.

The governor says he's looking at a number of options as it relates to vaccinate mandates.

In New York City, so far, about 5 million people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

CBS2's John Dias, Andrea Grymes and Jessica Layton contributed to this report.

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