Virginia joins the federal government, states like New York and California, and a growing list of private businesses in mandating inoculations or tests for their employees.,
Virginia will require state workers to be vaccinated or get tested, the governor says.
Nicole McCurrach, a nurse, administering the vaccine at Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Va., in March.Credit…Julia Rendleman/Reuters
Aug. 5, 2021, 4:21 p.m. ET
Virginia will soon require state employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or be tested every week, joining a handful of other states that have imposed similar mandates, Gov. Ralph Northam said on Thursday.
States, cities, employers and the federal government have all turned to mandates to accelerate the pace of vaccinations as cases have jumped across the country and the Delta variant has spread. Fully vaccinated people are protected against the worst outcomes of Covid-19, including those caused by the Delta variant.
New York, California and Puerto Rico have announced similar mandates, and last week President Biden said that federal employees would have to be vaccinated or regularly tested for the coronavirus. Major employers like Tyson Foods, Microsoft, Google and Disney have all instituted vaccine requirements of their own.
Virginia’s roughly 122,000 state employees and contractors will need to be vaccinated by Sept. 1, or be tested every week, Mr. Northam said. Unvaccinated employees will also need to wear masks indoors and while conducting public business.
Nearly 66 percent of adults in Virginia are fully vaccinated, according to federal data, and the state has seen its daily average of coronavirus cases increase from a low of 129 on June 20 to 1,279 on Wednesday, according to a New York Times database.
“The arrival of the Delta variant, combined with the number of people who are not vaccinated, is driving our case counts back up,” Mr. Northam said at a news conference.
“The way that we’re going to win this war is to roll up our sleeve and get vaccinated,” he added.
The governor called for companies and local governments to institute vaccine mandates of their own, and said he supported other mitigation measures, like masking, but that he was more focused on getting his state vaccinated than imposing a statewide mask mandate.
That approach is similar to that of Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, who called this week for proof of at least one vaccination before people can participate in indoor activities, like going inside a restaurant, gym or theater. He has strongly recommended that people wear masks indoors, but he has so far opted not to impose a mask mandate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week recommended that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors in virus hot spots.
Mr. Northam said he had witnessed the ravages of fatal illness firsthand while working as a physician.
“I have watched individuals fight for every breath, and I have also watched individuals take their last breath,” Mr. Northam said. “And so I want you to know that as your governor I will do everything that I can to keep you from that scenario.”