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Vaccine Requirements for NYC-Contracted Staff, Including Home Care, and other COVID-19 Briefs

The following are updates on new vaccine requirements and other COVID-19 briefs for August 2, 2021.

NYC: All City-Contracted Employees Must be Fully Vaccinated

On July 26, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all city and contracted employees must be fully vaccinated or show proof of negative COVID-19 tests weekly by September 13, 2021.

The policy takes effect sooner for certain employees given the nature of their work; employees of residential and certain congregate settings must comply with the new policy by August 16, 2021.

It is our understanding that contracted employees include home care staff employed by agencies that have contracts with NYC Human Resources Administration for personal care services and personal assistants providing consumer directed services whose Fiscal Intermediaries have contracts with NYC. This would also include those agencies that have contracts with the NYC Department for the Aging and provide services under the Expanded In-home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP).

For employees that opt to do weekly testing, only PCR tests processed by medical professionals — not at-home tests — will qualify (rapid tests won’t be accepted).

Vaccination is free to all New Yorkers including city and contract organization employees. And testing is free and widely available throughout the city. NYC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) will continue to provide options for both vaccinations and weekly PCR testing in all five boroughs and near public transportation hubs.

An employee who has tested positive through a PCR test must not report to work other than telework until all of the following conditions are met: it has been at least 10 days since their symptoms began; they have not had a fever for at least 24 hours without the use of a fever reducer; and other symptoms have improved.

Each agency will track compliance for their employees and contractors. Organizations will submit their vaccination mandate and mask enforcement policy to their contract agency.

Agencies and employers are responsible for verifying individual vaccination status of each employee, and monitoring compliance with weekly testing and mask requirements for those who are not vaccinated.

This policy for contracted agencies will be enforced as follows:

  • Contracted organizations must submit their updated policies and procedures to their contracting agency.
  • Contracted organizations must also submit attestation that they are complying with the new policy to their contracting agency.
  • Contracted organizations are subject to audits for compliance.

This expands on the policy announced on July 21 that requires all workers in city-run health settings to be fully vaccinated or provide weekly negative COVID-19 tests by August 2, 2021.

State Worker Vaccination Requirement

On June 28, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York State employees would be required to show proof of vaccination or face weekly testing by Labor Day.

The Governor also announced that patient-facing health care workers at state-run hospitals will be required to get vaccinated for COVID-19 by Labor Day. There will not be an option to be tested in lieu of vaccination for these patient-facing health care workers.

Federal Government Vaccination Requirement

President Biden on July 29 announced new vaccine requirements for federal workers and contractors.

All federal workers will be required to sign forms attesting they are fully vaccinated for SARS-CoV-2 or, otherwise, they must wear a mask at work (no matter their geographic location) and physically distance from all other employees and visitors. Unvaccinated workers must also undergo a weekly or twice weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel.

NYC Offers $100 Incentive for Those Vaccinated at City-run Sites

In announcing the new requirements for federal worker vaccinations, President Biden also recommended that state and local governments use federal relief funds to provide a $100 incentive to anyone who gets fully vaccinated.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio implemented such an incentive on Wednesday, July 28.

Any New York City resident who gets a first vaccine dose at a city-run vaccination site will immediately be issued a $100 digital debit card by e-mail. Those without an e-mail address will be mailed a physical prepaid debit card.

Federal Government Extends Emergency Declaration

On July 19, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra renewed the Public Health Emergency (PHE) that has been in effect since January 27, 2020 due to COVID-19.

This latest renewal of the PHE will last for 90 days, at which point it will lapse or be renewed again.

A declaration of a PHE permits emergency use authorization of vaccines, the access to funding to address the emergency, waivers of certain federal regulatory requirements, and other allowances.

CDC Posts Updated Mask Guidance

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has posted an updated guidance on masks.

It includes the following:

  • Individuals not vaccinated and those vaccinated should wear a mask indoors in public if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission to maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possibly spreading it to others.
  • Wearing a mask is most important if you have a weakened immune system or if, because of your age or an underlying medical condition, you are at increased risk for severe disease, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated. If this applies to you or your household, you might choose to wear a mask regardless of the level of transmission in your area.
  • If you travel in the U.S., you do not need to get tested before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel.
  • You need to pay close attention to the situation at your international destination before traveling outside the U.S.
  • You do NOT need to get tested before leaving the U.S. unless your destination requires it.
  • You still need to show a negative test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding an international flight to the U.S.
  • You should still get tested 3-5 days after international travel.
  • You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the U.S.
  • If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you should get tested 3-5 days after your exposure, even if you don’t have symptoms. You should also wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days following exposure or until your test result is negative. You should isolate for 10 days if your test result is positive.

Discontinuation of Home Isolation 

The state Department of Health (DOH) has released Health Advisory: Discontinuation of Home Isolation for Persons with COVID-19 Who Are Not in Health Care Facilities or Congregate Settings.

According to this guidance, DOH continues to recommend a symptom-based strategy for determining the duration of isolation — specifically, that a person may be released from isolation 10 days after illness onset, provided that symptoms are improving and the individual is fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medication. The period a person must be fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medication prior to discontinuing isolation has been reduced from 72 hours to 24 hours, consistent with CDC recommendations.

If a test-based strategy is used to determine discontinuation of isolation (e.g., for severely immunocompromised persons, or to end isolation earlier than determined by the symptom-based strategy), negative results are required using RT-PCR for detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for COVID-19 from at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected 24 hours or more apart (a total of two negative specimens). Isolation must continue until all final laboratory results are available.

This guidance applies to all individuals who test positive, irrespective of vaccination status.