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New York Implements New Vaccine Mandates As Omicron Continues To Spread 

As the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus continues to spread throughout the US, New York is taking action after becoming the first hub of breakout cases and surges. New York City in particular has implemented their latest vaccine mandate for private businesses to go into effect this week. 

New York state broke a single-day record for new cases with nearly 50,000 new infections being reported on Christmas Eve. Governor Kathy Hochul released data and a statement regarding the new cases and vaccine mandate. 

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“As we come home from holiday gatherings, it is as important as ever to take precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 this season. The vaccine is the best tool we have to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe as we head into the new year.”

The newest mandate requires workers to have at least one vaccine dose by Monday, employees will no longer be able to opt out of vaccination requirements with weekly testing. Children between the ages of 5-11 are now required to show proof of at least one vaccination before having access to indoor dining, fitness or entertainment, and adults will be required to show proof of two vaccinations for those areas. 

“We need to take very bold action. We’re seeing restrictions starting to come back. We’re seeing shutdowns. We can not let those restrictions come back. We can not have shutdowns in New York,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working to ease staffing shortages throughout the nation’s healthcare facilities. Workers in healthcare are able to return to work after testing positive after seven days of isolation if they’re asymptomatic and test negative. 

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The agency also specified that “health care workers don’t need to quarantine “following high-risk exposures if they’ve gotten all recommended vaccinations, including a booster shot. Quarantine refers to when people who have been exposed to the virus but have not yet been diagnosed with an infection need to avoid others. These new guidelines don’t extend to the general public and only apply to the healthcare workforce.”

About 74% of all ICU beds in the nation are being used while 21% of them are occupied by Covid-19 patients. Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke on Sunday and discussed how the Omicron variant poses a big threat to the healthcare system in America. 

“Even though we’re pleased by the evidence from multiple countries that it looks like there is a lesser degree of severity, we’ve got to be careful that we don’t get complacent about that because it might still lead to a lot of hospitalizations in the United States,” he explained. 

“We’re particularly worried about those who are in that unvaccinated class, that you know, tens and tens of millions of Americans who are eligible for vaccination who have not been vaccinated, those are the vulnerable ones when you have a virus that is extraordinarily effective in getting to people and affecting them the way Omicron is.”

Around 72.7% of the US population has now received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and 61.7% are fully vaccinated with two doses. 31.5% have already received their booster shots as well. 

President Biden’s Vaccine Mandate For 100 Million Workers Officially Being Enforced

Back in September President Biden announced that he would be working on creating multiple vaccine mandates to get more Americans vaccinated. On Thursday, the administration started the process by releasing mandates for over 100 million workers. 

The first rule has been issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and covers mandates for companies with 100 or more employees; it’s estimated this rule will apply to 84 million workers. Companies need to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by January 4th, or they will need to provide a negative test in order to come into work every week. 

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OSHA’s rule also requires employers to pay their employees for the time it takes for them to get vaccinated, and recover from any potential side effects that arise. 

Employers also won’t be required to pay for weekly testing for their unvaccinated employees, or even provide the testing in the first place. This is in an attempt to get more employees to actually receive their vaccines as opposed to remaining at higher risk for exposure. 

Unvaccinated workers will also be required to wear face coverings at all times; this rule will be enforced starting December 6th. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are requiring around 17 million health care workers to be vaccinated by January 4th. However, healthcare workers won’t be given the option to decline being vaccinated to opt for weekly testing. 

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Some employers are worried that the deadlines OSHA provided won’t give some of them enough time to gather the information required to find out who’s already vaccinated and who’s not. However, the Biden Administration asserted their authority in issuing these mandates due to OSHA’s responsibility to provide safe and healthy working conditions for all employees. 

“A virus that has killed more than 745,000 Americans, with more than 70,000 new cases per day currently, is clearly a health hazard that poses a grave danger to workers,” said a senior administration official.

Companies will mainly be responsible for enforcing the OSHA rule, as there’s only a couple thousand state and federal OSHA inspectors nationwide. It’s expected that OSHA inspectors will more likely be responding to employee complaints regarding their employers or fellow workers who aren’t abiding by the mandates. 

Employers that violate the rule can face fines up to $13,000 per violation, and depending on how severe the violation is that fine could multiply by ten.