Coronavirus NY: Vaccine or weekly testing for school staff, Hochul says

Coronavirus Update for New York

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Tuesday, August 31, 2021
NYC expands COVID vaccine incentive to restaurants, houses of worship
New York City has expanded it's $100 COVID-19 vaccine incentive program to restaurants and houses of worship.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Mandatory vaccinations in all state-run congregate facilities are being explored, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced during her first COVID briefing on Tuesday.

But New York will not implement a vaccination mandate for school employees, and will instead opt to require weekly testing for the unvaccinated.

"I think that's a compromise," Hochul said. "I want everyone vaccinated. I don't have the authority."

One mandate that is currently not open for discussion is masks in schools. But even to that, Hochul said, "I'm not leaving open ended mandates."

"I announced, and wanted to give enough notice, that we will have a mask mandate," Hochul said. "I'm willing to make tough decisions any day, anywhere, if i think they will protect the people of this state. this is not a problem for me."

Hochul made the announcements in Buffalo, as she outlined the future of battling coronavirus under her tenure.

She said the state is getting ready to administer booster shots statewide, allocating $65 million for local governments to pay for them.

In a shift from the last administration, Hochul said local officials will manage the distribution of the booster shots, as they know their communities better than the state.

"You figure it out, you know your communities better than anybody," she said in Buffalo.

Hochul stressed she will be collaborating with local governments, and not dictating to them.

Meanwhile, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the city's campaign to get more New Yorkers to roll up their sleeves for the COVID shot two weeks before the new vaccine mandate begins.

As the city's vaccine mandate approaches on September 13, the mayor is reminding small businesses and religious leaders that the city's COVID referral bonuses have been expanded to restaurants and houses of worship.

"This weekend 2,000 vaccinations at the houses of worship as part of our referral program, 2,000 more people got vaccinated," he said. "That means every single one of those folks were able to get a bonus themselves the $100 incentive, but it also means that every house of worship got $100 for each person that they convinced to come in and get vaccinated."

"The revenue of $100, it's a really a kind of a way to help it our own, and expenses," said Shakib Ferrara with Safari restaurant in Harlem. "So whenever we refer it's a win-win-win for our community members, our clients to get healthy, but also $100 snapback just to get it at the end of the day."

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