New York Capital Brief:

Delta Variant and New Immunization Mandates

This week, Governor Cuomo held a press conference confirming that the Delta variant is present in New York and has been found in 72.2% of new positive cases across NY. The State confirmed 1,982 new cases Saturday – up nearly fourfold from 506 confirmed July 1 – and another 1,296 confirmed cases on Sunday.

Additionally, Governor Cuomo announced that all New York State employees—about 130,000 people—will be required to get vaccinated by Labor Day. State employees who do not get vaccinated will be required to be tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis.  However, patient-facing healthcare workers at State-run hospitals will be required to get vaccinated by Labor Day – without the option to be tested in lieu of vaccination. New York State is working with unions to implement the requirement quickly and fairly.

In New York City, Mayor de Blasio expanded the City’s mandate to require the entire municipal workforce (about 340,000 employees) to get vaccinated or start weekly testing by September 13.  As previously announced, de Blasio said members of the NYC Health and Hospitals and front-line Department of Health workers and clinical workers will be required to be vaccinated or get tested every week starting August 2.

Additionally, Governor Cuomo is strongly encouraging school districts and businesses in high-risk areas to consider taking more aggressive actions in an effort to avoid becoming a “super spreader.”


NY Establishes $20M Partnership with 5 Labs for Delta Variant Tracing

This week, the NYS Department of Health is establishing a $20 million partnership with five laboratories to identify and track COVID-19 variants.

The State has selected the SUNY Molecular Analysis Core at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Cornell University’s Virology Laboratory of Animal Health Diagnostic Center, the University at Buffalo’s Genomics and Bioinformatics Core, the Medicine Central Laboratory at the University of Rochester Medical Center and the New York Medical College’s Genomics Core Laboratory.


Governor Signs Voting Reform Package into Law

Last week, Governor Cuomo signed a package of voting reforms into law that aim to help voters, candidates, and boards of elections perform their functions more easily.

These reforms include:

  • Eliminating signed absentee ballot applications and allowing absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day to be considered timely;
  • Allowing voters to request absentee ballots through electronic means;
  • Requiring boards of elections to post information about changes in polling places;
  • Conforming deadlines for the mailing of applications for absentee ballots to USPS guidelines;
  • Allowing candidates who have lost primaries to be removed from ballots as candidates for different parties; and
  • Increasing election district registrant enrollment from 1,150 to 2,000.