Delaware governor orders state employees, health care workers to get COVID-19 vaccine or regular tests

Carney’s vaccine mandate for state workers comes amid a steady surge in recent weeks of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Delaware Gov. John Carney, wearing a face mask, speaks at a podium

File photo: Delaware Gov. John Carney gives the State of State Address in the Senate Chambers at Legislative Hall in Dover, Del on Jan. 28, 2021. (Jason Minto/State of Delaware)

All state employees and all health care employees in Delaware must get vaccinated for COVID-19 by Sept. 30 or be tested regularly for the virus, Gov. John Carney announced today.

Carney also encouraged private employers to impose similar requirements, noting that several Delaware companies have already done so.

Carney’s order didn’t specify what regular testing means, or whether employees would face termination if they did not comply. Nor did he issue an official order, with his news release saying the regulations will be posted by the end of August. Officials in the governor’s office did not immediately respond to questions about how Carney’s new order would be enforced.

The order pertains to all 14,000 employees of state agencies, such as the state police, DelDOT, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Division of Motor Vehicles.

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The order does not pertain to public school employees, who are governed by the state’s 19 school districts, none of which have issued a vaccination mandate.

Carney’s announcement comes amid a steady coronavirus surge and on the heels of a vaccination edict last week by ChristianaCare, the state’s largest private employer and biggest hospital system with 14,000 employees and contractors. Those who do not have at least one shot by Sept. 21 will be terminated unless they are granted a medical or religious exemption. The order, issued two weeks ago, has led to two vocal protests outside Christiana Hospital.

Carney’s vaccination order covers all health care facilities, including hospitals, urgent care centers, nursing homes, assisted-living operations, hospice care, and group homes for people with physical or mental disabilities.

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As of Wednesday, 73.9% of Delaware adults had received at least one vaccine dose. Yet COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, with 99% of cases in unvaccinated people.

As of Wednesday, the state’s seven-day average of new daily cases was 198, a figure that more than quadrupled in the last four weeks. During that same period hospitalizations have more than tripled to 103.

“There’s no better way to protect our most vulnerable neighbors from this virus than getting the COVID-19 vaccine,” Carney said. “If you haven’t gotten your COVID-19 vaccine yet, consider it.”

And if you work for the state or in health care, get it or be tested regularly.

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