Wolf tells 25k state health, prison workers: Vaccine or test

Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf in Wilkes-Barre on May 19, 2021. (Gov. Tom Wolf/Flickr)

Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf in Wilkes-Barre on May 19, 2021. (Gov. Tom Wolf/Flickr)

About 25,000 employees of Pennsylvania’s prisons and state health care and congregate care facilities have about a month to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or take weekly tests for the virus, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Tuesday.

Wolf said workers in those jobs — and all new hires at those facilities — have until Sept. 7 to get fully vaccinated. In addition to the Corrections Department, it applies to state hospitals, veterans’ homes, community health centers, prisons and homes for those with intellectual disabilities.

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The state Health Department said this week that 63.8% of adult state residents are fully vaccinated, although there were nearly 4,100 positive cases over a recent three-day stretch. So far more than 1.2 million Pennsylvanians have been infected with the coronavirus and nearly 28,000 have died from it.

The two-week moving average of cases has been on the rise in Pennsylvania, where daily vaccinations have recently averaged about 14,000 people.

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State workers who prove they are fully vaccinated will also be given an extra day off of work as an incentive to increase the vaccination rate.

Wolf’s policy directive stops well short of requiring all state workers to get vaccinated or tested and he has said he does not expect to require schoolchildren to wear masks as the academic year approaches.

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