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COVID-19 vaccine order for most state employees takes effect

September 1, 2021 GMT

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A mandate that most of Virginia’s state workers will have to be vaccinated or agree to regular COVID-19 testing is taking effect.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s order kicks in Wednesday and will apply to more than 120,000 executive branch employees.

The Democratic governor issued the directive earlier in August as the delta variant drove a national surge in COVID-19 cases, most of which involve unvaccinated people.

“The three vaccines are safe, effective, free, and widely available, and I strongly urge every eligible Virginian to get their shot. The time for waiting is over,” Northam, the nation’s only doctor-governor, had said in August.

Northam issued his order a day after Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced a decision to require workers in the capital city to get the vaccine or face disciplinary action. Virginia joins other states including California, New York and North Carolina, that have already taken similar measures.

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Northam’s order will require unvaccinated workers to show proof of negative tests weekly. The order will cover about 122,000 workers at executive branch agencies such as the Virginia Employment Commission, Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Transportation, and some staff at public colleges and universities.

The directive won’t apply to legislative or judicial branch workers or workers in K-12 schools.