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The Dripby Brew Editors12:03 pmJul 27, 20210

Henry calls for vaccinations or weekly Covid tests for city workers

No response yet from the mayor’s office. Percentage of municipal workforce now vaccinated is not known, according to the health department.

Above: Comptroller Bill Henry says the city needs to protect employees as they return to the workplace. (Fern Shen, 2019)

Comptroller Bill Henry is urging the Scott administration to require Baltimore City employees to get vaccinated or to provide weekly proof of a negative Covid-19 test.

Across the country, private employers and public officials are requiring mandatory vaccinations for employees as cases of the Delta variant of the virus rise sharply and vaccination rates stall.

Noting that New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio and California state government have ordered their workforces to vaccinate or get tested weekly, Henry sent out a press release today to “encourage Mayor Scott to follow suit,” saying it is the best way for Baltimore to beat the uptick in Covid cases.

“In the next few weeks, many Baltimore City employees will begin returning to workspaces they left in March 2020. We must prioritize creating safe facilities, offices, and workspaces as we transition back to in-person access to critical city services. An equitable approach to providing city services means taking the necessary precautions to protect our most vulnerable neighbors, the immuno-compromised and children under 12, from the COVID-19 virus,” Henry said.

Henry discussed his proposal with Scott’s staff, a press aide said, but got no definite response.

So far, the mayor’s office has not returned a request for comment.

Vaccination Rates

According to the city’s Covid-19 dashboard, the seven-day average daily new case rate stands at 3.3 per 100,000 people, up 151% from four weeks ago.

Currently, 56% of adults and 47% of those 12 and up are vaccinated, according to the city health department.

However, vaccination rates vary widely among communities, with zip codes in east, west and south Baltimore reporting as little as 30% of the population vaccinated.

Health officials say they don’t know how many of the city’s 15,000-strong workforce is vaccinated, but the number is believed to be below the city’s average.

As of August 1, Covid-19 vaccinations are required for all students, faculty and staff working at the Johns Hopkins university and its medical campuses, which constitute the largest employer base in Baltimore.

The University of Maryland is also mandating students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated for the fall semester.

According to Henry, “City government has a fiscal responsibility to keep our economy strong and a moral responsibility to keep our workers protected.”

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