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New York City Workers Must Be Vaccinated By Sept. 13 Or Face Weekly Testing, Mayor De Blasio Says

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- City Hall is getting tough on those who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday issued a mandate that municipal workers either get a COVID vaccine or be subject to weekly testing, CBS2's Andrea Grymes reported.

It applies to all of the city's roughly 400,000 employees, including those in the Department of Education, NYPD and the FDNY.

"This is about what we need to do to bring back New York City. This is about keeping people safe," de Blasio said.

Starting Sept. 13, everyone must either be vaccinated or tested once a week for COVID.

"This means everybody. This means obviously everyone who works in our schools, our educators and staff. It means the NYPD, the FDNY. It means all city agencies," the mayor said.

Two groups will actually start this sooner. The new rules begin August 2 for New York City Health + Hospital employees, along with city Health Department clinical setting workers. On August 16th, the requirement will take effect for city workers and contractors in residential and congregate care settings.

Watch Andrea Grymes' Report

Breaking the mandate would mean serious consequences: you can't come to work and you won't get paid, CBS2's Jessica Layton reported.

California is also checking all state employees for proof of vaccination. The Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to require the shots for its health care workers.

"The unvaccinated is not a protected class under the law," said employment attorney Jon Bell.

Bell said employees should get used to companies and governments being legally protected in mandating the COVID vaccine.

"Generally, I see this as seamless and don't see a lot of litigation surrounding it," he said. "If they pass a policy and they didn't approach the union and try to bargain it first, the union could then file a ULP, an unfair labor practice, and actually arbitrate it."

DC 37, the city's largest public employee union, said, "If City Hall intends to test our members weekly, they must first meet us at the table to bargain."

De Blasio said he has started those conversations with the unions.

The president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association said just over half of its 20,000 members are vaccinated.

"It is UFA's position that when mandated COVID tests are given to the unvaccinated firefighters, that antibody tests be given in conjunction so that everybody understands their level of risk," said Andrew Ansbro. "The UFA is pro-vaccine but we are also pro-choice."

De Blasio did not offer exact numbers, but believes the city workforce vaccination rate is similar to the city's adult vaccination rate. Right now, 71% of adults have at least one dose.

The city is launching a new app on Aug. 2 where employees can input their information.

De Blasio has also encouraged private companies to enact similar mandates.

WATCH: Mayor De Blasio Announces New Mandate For City Workers

The United Federation of Teachers weighed in on the new rules, saying in part, "This approach puts the emphasis on vaccination but still allows for personal choice and provides additional safeguards through regular testing."

Infections in the city, driven by the Delta variant, are steadily on the rise, affecting mostly the unvaccinated.

The city's seven day average COVID positivity rate is 2.35%, with 862 cases, and 33 hospitalizations. Those numbers are increasing.

"In the tug of war between variants and vaccines, we should continue to bet on vaccines," said Health Commissioner Dr. David Chokshi.


De Blasio also spoke out against vaccine and COVID misinformation, asking social media giants to take action that critics call dangerous censorship.

"New York City is calling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to deplatform, that this information doesn't take away their bully pulpit that is killing people. Stop them now, kick them off your sites right now, completely, immediately," de Blasio said.

Meantime, on Staten Island, Republican City Councilmember Joe Borelli and a group of parents and students called on the mayor to lift the mask mandate in schools.

"We want New York City to join the countless others, hundreds, thousands of school districts across the country that are turning this to a choice for the parents," Borelli said.

"Where's the science in the masks. It's not there. Our kids are suffering. They're anxious, they're confused," said parent Christine Galone.

CBS2's Jessica Layton contributed to this report. Editor's note: This story first appeared on Monday, July 26.

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