Employees of D.C.’s government will be required to prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing, the mayor announced Tuesday.
All District employees, contractors, interns and grantees must be fully vaccinated by Sept. 19, Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a news conference, standing with labor leaders. Teachers and other school employees are included in the requirement.
Exemptions for medical or religious reasons will be granted. Anyone who is exempt will have to under weekly testing and provide a negative result.
“Failure to comply will lead to adverse employment actions,” the mayor’s presentation said.
So far, 54% of D.C. workers have shown that they are fully vaccinated.
Bowser said she believes the move is necessary in order to slow the spread of the delta variant.
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Labor leaders are working with District workers to encourage vaccination, Metro Washington Labor Council President Dyana Forester said.
“What we all realize is that many of our working people are people of color, and they come from a place where they don’t trust the government. We’ve done a lot to try to educate our members,” she said.
D.C. government workers will have to wear masks whenever they interact with members of the public or coworkers, indoors or outdoors.
The average number of new COVID-19 cases increased about tenfold in D.C. from July 7 to Aug. 7, data shows. Hospitalizations rose nearly 130%.
As for why D.C. has not instituted a vaccine passport requirement for all indoor events, similar to what New York City has done, Bowser said she doesn’t think it makes sense. People in D.C. travel to neighboring states and beyond.
“We don’t live in a bubble in this region, or even on the East Coast,” she said.