Polis orders unvaccinated state employees to get tested regularly and wear masks — but he won’t require shots – The Denver Post

Gov. Jared Polis announced Friday that state employees who remain unvaccinated against the coronavirus are required to get tested twice a week and continue wearing masks in indoor public areas, but he stopped short of issuing a mandate that workers get immunized.

The governor’s announcement comes a day after President Joe Biden revealed new rules for federal civilian employees, which require them to get a COVID-19 vaccine or face regular testing, masking and other social distancing measures.

“I have heard from state employees who are terrified that their unvaccinated co-workers will give them COVID-19 and want vaccination mandated, and from other state workers who have hesitation towards the vaccine,” Polis said in a statement. “I think this middle road is the right one to take, respecting the right of state workers to decide while also taking effective steps to address the legitimate safety concerns of fellow state workers.”

There’s been a growing push nationally to get more Americans vaccinated, with hospitals and other businesses requiring their employees to get the shots. Earlier this week, UCHealth and Denver Health announced they will require their staff to get vaccinated by this fall.

So far, 62% of eligible Coloradans are fully vaccinated, according to state health department data.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also revised its mask guidance in light of new data that shows the delta variant may be a bigger threat than previously believed, by saying that even those inoculated against the virus should still wear masks in indoor public settings in much of the country — including across Colorado’s Front Range.

The testing requirements for state workers will go into effect on Sept. 20.

State employees who remain unvaccinated will have to submit their twice-weekly COVID-19 test results to human resources. And once they get immunized, they will not be subject to the testing, according to the news release.

In their announcement of the new program, state officials did not say what happens if unvaccinated employees fail to submit test results.

The state employs 31,000 people.

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