Polk County's new employee vaccine policy takes effect
Starting today, Polk County's 1,400 employees must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or submit to weekly testing.
Why it matters: Those who refuse both options will be considered insubordinate and face termination, county administrator John Norris told Axios this week.
- It's still too early to determine whether there might be an employee exodus linked with the new policy approved by county supervisors this month, he said.
State of play: Iowa law bans COVID-19 vaccine passports, but it doesn't restrict businesses or governments from requiring that employees get vaccinated.
- Des Moines' government is reviewing a track-and-verify vaccination system and could implement its own requirements in coming weeks, spokesman Al Setka told us yesterday.
- Meanwhile, metro hospitals are offering a retention bonus ahead of a Nov. 1 deadline when employees who aren't vaccinated will be asked to resign or face termination.
Another incentive: Polk County offers up to 80 hours of PTO for employees who contract COVID-19.
- Yes, but: It’s now only available for vaccinated workers with breakthrough cases.
By the numbers: New COVID-19 cases in Iowa are down about 25% over the last two weeks, according to the New York Times. But hospitalizations are up more than 10% and deaths have spiked by more than 200%.
- About 55% of Iowans are fully vaccinated.
The big picture: Hiring and firing based on vaccination status is becoming more common, and businesses are playing key roles in upping vaccination rates, Axios' Erica Pandey writes.
- President Biden this month announced a federal mandate for all private employers with more than 100 workers to require vaccinations or weekly tests.
What's ahead: Enforcement rules for Biden's mandate are being drafted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
- Fines could go as high as $700,000 for willful or repeated violations under a bill being considered by U.S. House Democrats.
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