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Governor mandates vaccine verification for state employees

RALEIGH – With the Delta variant leading to a surge of new positive cases of COVID-19 across the state, Governor Roy Cooper implemented measures and made several recommendations here today (Thursday) during a press conference.

Cooper, joined by North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy K. Cohen, announced that state government would begin verifying vaccination status of its workers. Employees not vaccinated are required to wear a mask and be tested at least once a week.

“Until more people get the vaccine, we will continue living with the very real threat of serious disease, and we will continue to see more dangerous and contagious variants like Delta,” Cooper stated.

“The trends are turning in the wrong direction,” the Governor added. “If you are not vaccinated you are at great risk. This Delta virus is much more contagious and spreading fast. If you are not vaccinated, it will find you.”

As part of a new Executive Order, Cooper mandates that employees of cabinet level departments of state government must verify if they are vaccinated.

“We hope that leads to other state employees getting vaccinated,” the Governor noted.

He added there would be consequences (to be determined) if they do not get vaccinated.

The effective date for this state-level mandate is Sept. 1.

Cooper also recommended that private businesses keep track of and report the number of their vaccinated employees, and encourage the unvaccinated to consider getting a COVID shot.

“We need the private sector to help us increase our vaccine rates; our economy depends on that,” he stressed. “We’re encouraging everyone, to include businesses, to follow CDC guidelines and wear masks in indoor public places.”

The Governor said he knew these recommendations would not be popular, especially among those who have been vaccinated.

“Many vaccinated people are frustrated and mad,” he said. “But thank you for stepping up for you and your community.”

Cooper called on vaccinated individuals to encourage family and friends to get their shots.

“We have a way to get out of this pandemic and that’s to get vaccinated,” he stated.

The Governor stressed a level of irresponsibility among those who have opted not to get a shot.

“You cause problems for not just yourself, but for others,” he said.

Cooper also highly recommended that all K-12 school systems across the state mandate the use of face masks for students and teachers.

In her remarks, Dr. Cohen said the majority of all new COVID cases are of the Delta variant.

“If you are not vaccinated, wear a mask in all indoor public settings and maintain social distancing of six feet or more,” she said. “If you are not vaccinated, stay away from other unvaccinated people if you do not live with them.”

Dr. Cohen added that the Delta variant is the most contagious form of the virus she has seen to date.

“We’re seeing viral spread in areas where the vaccination rate is low. One person is capable of spreading it to six people,” she noted.

The NCDHHS updated guidance reminds unvaccinated people that they need to continue practicing the three Ws – wear a mask in all indoor public settings, wait six feet apart in all public settings and wash hands often. In addition, unvaccinated people should not travel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new mask guidance this week based on levels of transmission in communities. The new maps designate counties as areas of low (blue), moderate (yellow), substantial (orange) or high (red) transmission. Moving forward, everyone in a red or orange county in North Carolina, including those who have been vaccinated, should wear a mask in public indoor settings.

As of 12:30 p.m. on July 29, NCDHHS reported 3,268 new cases of COVID-19 across the state. That number was below 1,000 just a few weeks ago.

There were 1,141 individuals hospitalized with the virus as of Thursday afternoon.

To date, North Carolina has administered nearly 9.8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, with 57 percent of the adult population fully vaccinated. 61 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, including 86 percent of North Carolinians 65 and over.

Learn more about the state’s vaccine distribution at myspot.nc.gov (English) or Vacunate.nc.gov (Spanish). Details on the Your Shot at $1 Million Summer Cash Drawing can be found at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/summervaxcash. Use NCDHHS’ online tool Find a Vaccine Location to find a nearby vaccine site. Call the state’s COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 888-675-4567.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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