Local officials announced on Tuesday that all City of Madison and Dane County employees must get vaccinated against COVID-19 or get weekly COVID-19 tests. The move comes as coronavirus cases across the state have spiked in recent weeks.
Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, and Public Health Madison and Dane County Director Janel Heinrich announced in a joint press conference this morning they would be requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for all city and county employees.
Rhodes-Conway says that, starting in the near future, all city employees who choose to remain unvaccinated must show weekly proof of a negative COVID-19 test. While there is currently no specific date by which employees have to be vaccinated, Rhodes-Conway says more details will be released within the next two weeks.
“ Like the county, the city of Madison is joining the growing group of employers who will require that our employees be vaccinated. City employees who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 will have to do weekly testing and show proof of a negative test,” said Rhodes-Conway.
On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Dane County is at a “substantial risk” for COVID-19 transmission. That’s an increase from the “moderate risk” category the county had been at for the last few months.
Heinrich says that most of the new cases are caused by the Delta coronavirus strain.
“The Delta Variant has emerged as the predominant strain circulating in Dane County. Over the last month, we have learned more about how transmissible Delta is. Our seven day case average has jumped from seven on June 15th to 66.9 today.”
Heinrich says that, although cases overall are on the rise, hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 have remained stable, due to Dane County’s higher vaccination rate.
Vaccinated folks who contract COVID-19 typically experience much milder symptoms than their unvaccinated counterparts. The Associated Press reports that more than 98 percent of COVID-19 cases since January have been amongst people who aren’t fully vaccinated.
The new mandate will apply to city and county employees working remotely as well. Those who do not follow the new guidelines will be given a written work-rule violation, with no specific disciplinary action as of yet.
County Executive Parisi says that the requirement will apply to all 2400 county employees, and will not exempt remote workers.
Mayor Rhodes-Conway says that survey data shows that nine out of ten city employees have already been vaccinated. She urged local businesses to implement similar vaccination policies.
“I want to encourage every employer, every venue, every institution, every business to consider doing the same. We need to get people vaccinated.”
The new vaccination policies for city and county employees come just a few days after President Joe Biden instituted new vaccination protocols for federal employees.
Photo courtesy of Brian Standing/WORT News on Flickr