Coronavirus Updates: US employers ratchet up the pressure on the unvaccinated

COVID-19 Live Updates, News and Information

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, August 3, 2021
More employers telling workers to vaccinate or get tested as delta surges
Jim Dolan has more on today's COVID-19 developments.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Employers are increasingly losing patience with unvaccinated workers, and a growing number of businesses -- alarmed by the rise of the more contagious delta variant and frustrated that vaccination rates in the U.S. have plateaued -- are requiring their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

For months, most employers relied on information campaigns, bonuses and other incentives to encourage their workforces to get the shot. Now, a growing number are imposing rules to make it more onerous for employees to refuse, from outright mandates to requiring the unvaccinated to undergo regular testing.

Among employers getting tougher are the federal government, the state governments of California and New York, tech giants Google and Facebook, the Walt Disney Co. and the NFL. Some hospitals, universities, restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues have also started requiring vaccines.

Still, experts say the new measures are unlikely to affect many of the millions of unvaccinated Americans

Here are more of today's headlines:

Home Depot, Lowe's mask policies

Home Depot is once again "asking customers" to wear masks in its stores nationwide and Lowe's is "encouraging customers" to wear masks -- saying free masks will be available to any shopper who needs one.

Equinox, SoulCycle to require proof of vaccination

Equinox announced Monday it will require all members, employees and riders at its Equinox clubs, SoulCylce Studios and officers in NYC to be vaccinated.

The company said people have until early September to comply.

New York's largest health care provider requiring vaccines or testing

In a notable shift from just last week New York State's largest health care provider and private employer, Northwell Health, will now require all employees to get the COVID vaccine, or face regular testing.

Employees who are not fully vaccinated by August 16 -- exactly two weeks from Monday -- will be required to be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.

Those who fail to get tested "in a timely manner" will face disciplinary action, including termination, a spokesperson tells ABC.

U.S. finally hits Biden's vaccine milestone

It's nearly a month late, but the U.S. has finally hit President Biden's big vaccine milestone: 70% of adults ages 18+ have at least one shot of the vaccine. The milestone comes amid growing concerns about the rise of the more contagious Delta variant.

NJ heath care workers vaccine mandate

Governor Murphy announced all employees in certain health care facilities and other high-risk congregate settings are required to complete a full vaccination course or undergo regular testing at a minimum of once to twice each week. The mandate begins on September 7.

NYC issues 'strong recommendation' for indoor masks

For the first time New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recommended Monday vaccinated people wear a mask in crowded indoor settings but he stopped short of making the new CDC masking guidance mandatory in the city. "We want to strongly recommend that people wear a mask in indoor settings even if you're vaccinated," de Blasio said.

Israel rolls out Pfizer 3rd dose testing

Israel has rolled out its third dose of Pfizer's COVID vaccine for people over the age of 60. Dozens of people got dose number three in Tel Aviv on Sunday. Each person who got the booster shot had their second Pfizer shot at least five months ago. The plan to administer a third vaccine dose was announced last week. A panel of pandemic experts suggested a third shot was needed because the vaccine's effectiveness has appeared to wane as the delta variant spreads across the world.

Staten Island concert venue changed

The venue for New York City's Homecoming concert on Staten Island is being moved to Midland Beach, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday. Organizers say the larger venue will better accommodate anticipated crowds. Lineups for each of the outer borough concerts were announced last week.

MTA to adopt similar vaccine requirements as NYS workers

Subway, bus and commuter rail workers, along with airport workers, must be vaccinated starting Labor Day or face a weekly test, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday. The MTA and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls JFK, LGA and EWR, have adopted the same policy the state has for its public sector employees in requiring either a vaccine or a weekly proof of a negative test.

Father of 5 who was waiting out COVID vaccine dies from the virus

Just a couple weeks ago, life was great for Jessica DuPreez. She was on vacation with her fiancé and their five kids. They were happy, healthy and enjoying life. Now they're in tears. DuPreez's 39-year-old fiancé, Michael Freedy, is dead. While on vacation, Freedy forgot to put on sunscreen. His sunburn was so bad he went to the emergency room. That's where he got a COVID-19 test that came back positive.

"He is only 39. Our babies now don't have a dad," DuPreez said.

Evictions expected to spike as pandemic moratorium ends

Evictions, which have mostly been on pause during the pandemic, were expected to ramp up Monday after the Biden administration allowed the federal moratorium to expire over the weekend and Congress was unable to do anything to extend it. Housing advocates fear the end of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium could result in millions of people being evicted. But most expect the wave of evictions to build slowly over the coming weeks and months as the bureaucracy of removing people from their homes restarts. On Sunday night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic leaders called on the Biden administration to immediately extend the moratorium, calling it a "moral imperative" to prevent Americans from being put out of their homes during a COVID-19 surge.

Wife encourages others to get vaccine after husband's COVID battle prompted double lung transplant

With the highly contagious Delta variant spreading across the country, hospital officials say they continue to see more patients, but one family is making it their mission to encourage others to get vaccinated. After six months, and a long battle against COVID-19, Rogelio Avila is set to return home. His wife said it all started back in February. The Avila family was among the many Houstonians snuggled inside after losing power during the February storm. That's when Sandra Avila said she started feeling sick. Things unfortunately didn't get better.

"I told my husband, 'Something is not right' because my chest is hurting," Sandra said.

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