Updated:
Original:

State employees must get vaccine or take weekly COVID test to return to workplace

The governor's office announced the new policy Wednesday.

The State of Minnesota's nearly 41,000 employees will have to either be vaccinated or receive a weekly COVID-19 test in order to go back to the workplace.

Gov. Tim Walz's office, in announcing the new measure Wednesday afternoon, cited the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus "and its highly contagious variants" as the reasons for the new requirement.

“With the Delta variant rising across the state, Minnesotans deserve to feel confident in their safety and security in the workplace,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan in the announcement. “Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep our workers safe, and I encourage all state agency employees to get their shot as soon as possible. It’s how we take care of each other as Minnesotans.”

Related: 71 of Minnesota's 87 counties have high or substantial community transmission of COVID

The state is the second-biggest employer in Minnesota with about 40,912 employees, according to the Department of Employment and Economic Development. It is bested only by Mayo Clinic, and ahead of large businesses such as Target, UnitedHealth, 3M and more.

However, FOX 9's Theo Keith points out the new policy won't necessarily apply to a large swath of them, at least right now.

How will the policy work?

By Sept. 8, state workers will have to show proof of vaccination and attest to their vaccination status. If a person is not vaccinated, they will be required to get a COVID-19 test at least once a week. They can continue to work on-site at public workplaces as long as they test negative.

The president of the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees (MAPE), which represents some state workers, said that while it is important to "work together to end this pandemic," there are still some unanswered questions. That includes testing logistics, and options for individuals who cannot get the vaccine.

"Now that we are involved, we will advocate for those improvements and look forward to working with the administration to ensure these improvements are made," the union's president said.

Walz's office notes new COVID-19 cases, which once appeared to be waning, are again on the rise, now up 574% per week compared to just a month ago. The delta variant is driving this surge, the governor's office says, and now makes up 90% of COVID cases sequenced in Minnesota.

Related: List of places in Minnesota that now require the COVID-19 vaccine

Walz, citing similar employee COVID-19 measures recently announced by businesses and universities, said the state is " leading by example" in its efforts to protect people and their communities. He also urged other businesses to institute similar requirements.

“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,” he said.

Data show the three COVID vaccines currently authorized for emergency use are effective at preventing serious or deadly illness, and Walz's office says less than 0.2% of fully vaccinated Minnesotans have tested positive for COVID-19. However, there are indications fully vaccinated individuals can still spread the delta variant strain of COVID-19.

Next Up

Foreman tl - Flug-Presley tr - Sturm bl - Pettus br - Go Fund Me and Facebook

St. Paul PD takes over quadruple killing probe after it emerged they died in Minnesota

A "thorough investigation" reveled where the four Minnesotans were killed.

superior national forest

Highway 1 reopens as Greenwood Fire is 80% contained

The highway has been closed for about a month.

covid, vaccine

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, September 20

Data in Monday reports includes the past Friday, not the weekend. Weekend data is released on Tuesdays.

ATV

Driver killed in ATV rollover crash north of Alexandria

The crash occurred in Douglas County Sunday evening.

Wikimedia Commons - COVID vaccine, pfizer, shot - Martin G

Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine is effective in kids ages 5-11

The company plans to seek U.S. authorization for the age group soon.

storm, wall cloud, severe wather

Damaging winds, tornadoes again possible in Twin Cities Monday

Storms are expected to intensify during the early afternoon hours.

Related

Minneapolis City Hall

Minneapolis city employees must get COVID vaccine or be tested regularly

The new requirements will be phased in over the coming weeks.

basilica block party

Basilica Block Party to require proof of vaccination or negative test

The Cities 97.1 music festival announced the new policy Friday.

Joe Biden screengrab Sept 9 2021

Large employers will have to ensure workers are vaccinated or tested weekly

President Joe Biden announced the new rule Thursday. Here are the details.

Minneapolis school board meeting sept 14

Mpls. schools will require staff to be vaccinated or tested regularly

The new policy also applies to contractors or partners that have direct student contact.

flu shot, vaccine

Walz to share state's COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan Tuesday

Healthcare workers and the elderly will likely be first in line.

Pexels smartphone use app

MN residents can now access their COVID vaccine record in an app

The state's Department of Health unveiled the new option Wednesday.