Gov. Cuomo mandates vaccines or testing for NYC transit workers

Coronavirus

FILE — In this May 19, 2021 file photo. pedestrians wear protective masks during the coronavirus pandemic, in the Queens borough of New York. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have scheduled competing news conferences Monday, Aug. 2 amid rising COVID-19 case counts attributed to the highly contagious delta variant of the virus. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo said workers in New York City’s airports and public transit system will have to get coronavirus vaccinations or face weekly testing, but he stopped short Monday of mandating either masks or inoculations for the general public, saying he lacks the legal authority to do so.

The Democrat urged bars and restaurants to adopt a policy of only serving 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, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was “strongly recommending” that even vaccinated people return to wearing masks indoors when not at home, but also declined to make masking mandatory.

An average of nearly 2,300 people have been testing positive for COVID-19 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% of new cases in New York City.

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Infection rates have been rising nationwide. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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 pandemic. De Blasio announced last week that city employees would have to get coronavirus vaccines by mid-September or face weekly COVID-19 testing. Cuomo later announced a similar rule for state employees.

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.

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