By Andrea Grymes

July 26, 2021

-CBS New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio Monday issued a mandate that all municipal workers either get a COVID vaccine or be subject to weekly COVID testing.

That includes workers in the Department of Education, NYPD and the FDNY.

“This is about what we need to do to bring back New York City. This is about keeping people safe,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio, speaking as the boss, had a new mandate for his city workers, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported. Starting Sept. 13, everyone must either be vaccinated, or tested once a week for COVID.

“This means everybody. This means obviously everyone who works in our schools, our educators and staff. It means the NYPD, the FDNY. It means all city agencies,” the mayor said.

Two groups will actually start this sooner. The new rules begin August 2 for New York City Health + Hospital employees, along with city Health Department clinical setting workers. And August 16th, the requirement will take effect for city workers and contractors in residential and congregate care settings.

The mayor and health officials say this comes as the city focuses on fighting the Delta variant.

The city’s seven day average COVID positivity rate is 2.35%, with 862 cases, and 33 hospitalizations. Those numbers are increasing.

“In the tug of war between variants and vaccines, we should continue to bet on vaccines,” said Health Commissioner Dr. David Chokshi.

The mayor says he’s started conversations with the many unions that represent city workers. The Uniformed Firefighters Association says mandated COVID testing should’ve been done a year ago.

“It is UFA’s position that when mandated COVID tests are given to unvaccinated firefighters, that antibody tests are given in conjunction, so everybody understands their level of risk,” said Andrew Ansbro of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. “The UFA is pro-vaccine but we are also pro-choice.”

De Blasio also spoke out against vaccine and COVID misinformation, asking social media giants to take action that critics call dangerous censorship.

“New York City is calling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to deplatform, that this information doesn’t take away their bully pulpit that is killing people. Stop them now, kick them off your sites right now, completely, immediately,” de Blasio said.

Meantime, on Staten Island, Republican City Councilmember Joe Borelli and a group of parents and students called on the mayor to lift the mask mandate in schools.

“We want New York City to join the countless others, hundreds, thousands of school districts across the country that are turning this to a choice for the parents,” Borelli said.

“Where’s the science in the masks. it’s not there. our kids are suffering. they’re anxious they’re confused,” said parent Christine Galone.

De Blasio did not offer exact numbers, but believes the city workforce vaccination rate is similar to the city’s adult vaccination rate. Right now, 71% of adults have at least one dose.

The city is launching a new app on Aug. 2 where employees can input their information.

Those who refuse the new requirements will be asked to leave without pay.

De Blasio also encouraged private companies to enact similar mandates.

The United Federation of Teachers weighed in on the new rules, saying in part, “This approach puts the emphasis on vaccination but still allows for personal choice and provides additional safeguards through regular testing.”