Denver Issues Vaccine Mandate For City Employees, Private Workers In ‘High Risk’ Settings

(Screenshot - City and County of Denver/YouTube)

Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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The City of Denver will require all public city employees and private sector workers in “high risk” settings to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September, Democratic Mayor Michael Hancock announced Monday.

Denver’s city government approved a public health order issuing the vaccine mandate earlier Monday. The mandate will apply to more than 10,000 city employees along with first responders, health care and correctional facilities workers and people who work in public and private schools.

Hancock said during a press conference that masks and social distancing aren’t enough to protect residents and that getting more people vaccinated is “the silver bullet we need for full recovery,” according to The Denver Post.

The mayor also pledged the city will work with people who have concerns about the vaccine but noted there would be consequences for those under the order who aren’t fully vaccinated by the Sept. 30 deadline.

“There might be some folks who may lose their jobs behind this,” Hancock said.

City Attorney Kristin Bronson said during the press conference that the public health order will apply to teachers and staff members not only at public and private schools but also at higher education institutions, according to The Denver Post. She noted that private businesses under the mandate will be asked to maintain records as proof of compliance or face penalties. (RELATED: Biden Says He’s Considering A Vaccine Mandate For Federal Employees)

Denver Public Health Director Bob McDonald further announced that employees at Denver airports and libraries, members of the city board and commission and elected officials must also get vaccinated.

The city’s vaccine mandate is a response to an increase in COVID-19 cases that public health experts linked to the Delta variant. Denver reported about 15.4 positive cases per 100,000 residents in June, though that number more than quadrupled to 71.2 cases per 100,000 residents in July, according to Denver Public Health data.

McDonald said vaccinations in Denver have “largely stalled” even with around 70% of residents fully vaccinated, according to a city press release. McDonald added that Monday’s public health order does not change the city’s current mask guidelines.

Masks are no longer required for children in any setting under the age of 11, but are still required for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and healthcare settings, according to the city’s website.

“We are not going to mask our way out of this, we are not going to test our way out of this,” McDonald said, according to The Denver Post. “We need to get people vaccinated, that is the only way we are all going to pull out of this.”