Updated Aug 11, 2021 - News
Minnesota latest state to mandate vaccines or tests for state workers
Photo of Tim Walz speaking
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D). Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

Minnesota on Wednesday joined a growing list of U.S. states mandating COVID-19 vaccines or testing for state employees in an effort to fight the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

What they're saying: "Vaccination is the best way to keep employees and the people we serve safe and ensure the Delta variant does not derail our economic recovery," Gov. Tim Walz (D) said in a statement announcing the mandate.

  • "With this action, we’re joining businesses and colleges across the state who have taken this important step, and I urge other employers to do the same."
  • State agency employees who are not vaccinated will need to test negative for the virus weekly in order to work in the office, Walz said.

Other states that have announced mandates:

  • California has required vaccines or regular testing for state employees, including teachers and other school staff.
    • "We think this is the right thing to do," Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said at a press conference.
  • Washington is instituting a vaccine mandate for most state employees and healthcare workers.
    • "We have a duty to protect them from the virus, they have the right to be protected, and the communities they serve and live in deserve protection as well," Gov. Jay Inslee (D).
  • New York is mandating vaccines or regular testing for state workers starting on Labor Day.
    • "It’s smart, it’s fair and it’s in everyone’s interest," Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said, per the Independent.
  • Illinois is requiring state workers in high-contact settings to get vaccinated by Oct. 4. This would apply to employees who work in state prisons, veterans' homes and care facilities, among others.
    • "We must all take immediate and urgent action to slow the spread of the Delta variant," Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said, per NBC Chicago. "People are dying who don't have to die."
  • North Carolina requires unvaccinated state staff wear a mask and be tested at least once a week. "There is only one way out of this pandemic and that is vaccination," said Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen after Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced the measure on July 29.
    • Our trends are accelerating at an alarmingly fast rate and the highest rates of viral spread are happening in areas with low vaccination rates and among those who are not fully vaccinated," Cohen added.

The big picture: President Biden has also mandated vaccines or regular testing for federal employees and military members.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Minnesota's testing option for nonvaccinated state workers and with details of N.C.'s measures.

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