Gov. Cooper not planning to change vaccination requirements for state employees after Biden’s mandate

North Carolina

FILE – In this Wednesday, June 24, 2020, file photo, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper arrives for a news briefing on the coronavirus at the Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh, N.C. With reported coronavirus cases rising rapidly in many states, governors are getting lots of advice on how to respond. Cooper announced a statewide mask rule and three-week pause on further reopenings, moves that were supported by a nurses association. But Cooper has faced pushback from Republican lawmakers and small businesses that are still shuttered, including bars, gyms and bowling alleys, which have tried to overturn the governor’s orders through legal action or legislation. (Robert Willett/The News & Observer via AP, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – While President Joe Biden is mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for federal workers, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said Thursday he is not changing the requirements for state workers under his authority. He wants to first see how the federal mandate plays out.

The Biden administration said federal workers could face disciplinary measures if they don’t comply with the vaccine mandate.

In North Carolina, state workers in Cabinet-level agencies must show proof of vaccination but also have the option of getting tested regularly instead and wearing a mask.

When asked if he’ll follow the president’s lead on issuing a stricter vaccination requirement, Cooper said, “We’ll look at what the feds do over the next couple months because it’s going to take them a while to ramp up, and we’ll see how effective our vaccination requirement is for state employees. The idea is to get more shots in arms.”

At least 50,000 state workers in North Carolina are subject to Cooper’s order.

He said it’s still not clear how many of them are vaccinated. He said the system tracking that information went live a few days ago and he anticipates being able to share that information “in a week or so.”

“We want to see how this works. We believe that this getting more state employees to step up and get vaccinated,” he said.

Cooper urged more people to get the vaccines, calling them “miraculous” and “God-given.”

In North Carolina about 67 percent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, lagging behind the country as whole. The U.S. reached a new milestone this week of 75 percent of adults being at least partially vaccinated.

As the delta variant spreads, North Carolina reported 3,815 in hospitals across the state Thursday due to COVID-19. That’s the highest number reported so far during this latest surge but still below the peak reached in the winter when 3,992 people were hospitalized at one time.

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said for the first time during the surge fueled by the delta variant, the trend line of new cases appears to be leveling.

She also said that last week about one-third of all COVID-19 cases in the state were among kids under 18.

Cooper has urged school districts to require masks but has not issued a mandate himself. As of Thursday, the North Carolina School Boards Association said only three of the state’s 115 school districts have not mandated masks.

The General Assembly recently passed a bill that Cooper signed that requires school boards to create a mask policy and to vote on whether to keep it or change it at least once a month.

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