NYC Transit Workers Latest to Have COVID Vaccines or Weekly Testing Mandated by State

New York City's transit workers are the latest group to be required by the state to get a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing for the virus, the Associated Press reported.

The new order, announced Monday by Governor Andrew Cuomo, applies to public transit and airport employees. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week that by mid-September, all city employees, such as teachers and law enforcement personnel, will have to get vaccinated or received weekly coronavirus testing. Last Wednesday, Cuomo announced the same mandate for state employees, who must get vaccinated by Labor Day or get tested weekly.

However, workers at state-run hospitals and veterans homes cannot decline vaccination and must get a shot, Cuomo said.

"The vaccine is free, safe and effective—and our strongest weapon in this ongoing fight," Cuomo said in a statement Sunday. "If you are still unvaccinated, you remain vulnerable, and it is critical that you get your shot as quickly as possible."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

New York City Subway
New York City transit workers must get a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing for the virus. Above, people wait on the platform as a subway arrives at the city's Fulton Street station on June 16. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Cuomo stopped short Monday of mandating either masks or inoculations for the general public, saying he lacks the legal authority to do so.

The governor urged bars and restaurants to adopt a policy of serving only vaccinated people and said that more hospitals should require workers to get vaccines. He said that imposing mandates, though, would require an act of the Legislature to restore emergency powers that have expired.

Shortly after Cuomo spoke to reporters, de Blasio said he was "strongly recommending" that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors when not at home, but he also declined to make masking mandatory.

An average of nearly 2,300 people have been testing positive for the coronavirus daily across New York state over the past week, up from around 300 new cases per day in late June. Health officials say the Delta variant of the coronavirus accounts for 72 percent of new cases in New York City.

Infection rates have been rising nationwide. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued guidelines recommending that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors in parts of the U.S. where the Delta variant is fueling infection surges.

The governor and mayor have resisted reimposing mask mandates, instead stressing vaccination as the key to fighting the spread of virus infections.

Citing new information about the variant's ability to spread among vaccinated people, the CDC also recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and visitors at schools nationwide, regardless of vaccination status.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stopped short Monday of mandating either masks or COVID-19 inoculations for the public, saying he cannot legally do so. Above, Cuomo holds a face mask at a May 27 news conference. Mark Lennihan/AP Photo