North Carolina to begin vaccine verification for state employees

Governor Roy Cooper

NC’s governor: Unvaccinated people are driving resurgence of COVID-19

Two days after the Centers for Disease Control issued new guidance for mask wearing, Governor Roy Cooper stopped short of issuing a new statewide mask mandate and instead focused on vaccine verification.

Starting September 1st, cabinet-level state employees under the governor’s purview will be required to provide proof of vaccination. Employees not vaccinated are required to wear a mask and be tested at least once a week.

Cabinet agency workers who provide proof that they are fully-vaccinated do not have to mask-up, however, masks are encouraged even for those workers in public places indoors.

While the governor does not have the power to require this of all state workers, he’s hoping other agencies and private businesses follow suit.

“I hope community colleges, universities, the Council of State will start doing this as well,” Cooper told reporters. “I think this will encourage more state employees to get vaccinated. Hope many private businesses that haven’t adopted this yet will adopt this.”

An estimated 50,000 state workers could be covered by the governor’s executive order.

Ardis Watkins, executive director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, voiced support for the new COVID protocols.

“We encourage all state employees and retirees to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their families, co-workers and communities,” tweeted Watkins.

Read the governor’s latest executive order.

State health officials are increasingly alarmed at how contagious the Delta variant has become.

HHS Secretary Mandy Cohen

“If you caught COVID – the original COVID – you’d be able to spread it to two to three people on average, now what we’re seeing with the Delta variant is that one person is able to spread it to six people,” cautioned Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen.

School districts are also strongly encouraged to follow the CDC’s guidance that all K-12 students wear masks, including those who have already been vaccinated.

“We have conformed to the CDC guidance. Schools should require K-12 students and teachers to wear masks,” said the governor.

But in more than a dozen North Carolina school districts, local boards have voted to make mask-wearing optional this fall.

The governor said they need to understand that the landscape has changed.

“I’m gonna ask these local school boards some that have voted a few weeks ago to make masks optional to look at this again,” said Cooper.

Source: DHHS

This is not where the state wanted to be one-month before the start of the traditional school year.

On July 1st, North Carolina recorded just 296 new COVID cases.

On Thursday, 3,268 new cases of the virus were recorded with more than 1,100 people hospitalized with COVID.

“This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said Sec. Cohen.

Since early May, North Carolina’s cases have been in 92% of people who are unvaccinated.

Hospitalizations have increased 200% among unvaccinated people age 50-59 in the past week.

Thursday also brought a reminder to practice the 3 Ws for the unvaccinated — wear a mask, wait six feet apart, and wash your hands often.

And there was this tweet from NCDHHS:

Cooper and Cohen both believe that getting more people to get a COVID shot is the key to controlling the spread of the virus.

The administration is actively encouraging private businesses to make vaccination verification a priority.

Just this week, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Morgan Stanley and Lyft announced all employees returning to the work must be vaccinated.

That list is expected to grow.

“Right now being a good corporate citizen means getting your people vaccinated. Our economy depends on it, in addition to our health,” said Cooper.

Source: DHHS

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North Carolina to begin vaccine verification for state employees