New York State government workers will face regular COVID testing if they are not vaccinated, Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.
Cuomo also said vaccinations will be mandatory for frontline workers in state-run hospitals, the New York Post reported.
"We look forward to working with our sisters and brothers in the labor movement to implement that quickly and effectively by Labor Day," Cuomo said.
"Our healthcare heroes have led the way all through this terrible crisis, so let's get vaccinated, save lives and beat this beast for once and for all."
State workers who don't want to get vaccinated will be tested "regularly," said Cuomo, who didn’t specify a timeline.
Two state law-enforcement unions slammed Cuomo for not consulting them before making his announcement.
"While we await contact from the governor’s office with more information, we are reviewing our legal options since we believe this is a change in the terms and conditions of our employment," New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association President Thomas Mungeer told the Post.
State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association President Michael Powers also was bothered by the governor's announcement.
"It’s disheartening that an administration that touts itself being NY Smart, would take such a drastic measure without any input from the individuals this directly impacts," Powers told the Post.
Cuomo urged local governments to require that all employees be vaccinated or submit to testing. He said if infection numbers continue to increase, school districts in affected areas also should consider taking further action.
The governor urged private businesses to "bring your employees back from remote work" immediately after Labor Day.
"Everyone has to be back to the office," he said. "Do it safely and smartly … We need that volume to support the restaurants, the shops, and the services."
He also suggested businesses "do their part" to help overcome "vaccine hesitancy" by allowing "only vaccinated people" as workers and customers.
Although the Federal Drug Administration has not granted final approval for the COVID-19 shots, Cuomo said that "by law" employers have the authority to require their workers be vaccinated.
"We’re taking the first major step down this road," he said.
The state comptroller's office said New York employs more than 256,000 people.
Cuomo's announcement came two days after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expanded the city's vaccination-or-testing rule to cover the entire municipal workforce. De Blasio previously ordered public hospital and clinic workers to get inoculated or undergo weekly tests for the coronavirus.
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