Vaccination mandates being issued on federal, state and local levels across the Hudson Valley
The surging delta variant has led to new and aggressive steps to get more people vaccinated, with President Joe Biden leading the way -- and local officials are following.
New Rochelle officials have told their city employees that they must show proof of vaccination by Sept. 8 or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.
President Biden issued new COVID-19 mandates for all federal workers this week. Gov. Andrew Cuomo did the same for state employees, as did officials in Yonkers and New Rochelle.
The policies are all similar: get vaccinated by a certain date or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing.
The mandates are focusing on government workers, but the president is looking into issuing similar policies for the country.
"I had asked the Justice Department to determine whether that is ... they're able to do that legally and they can. Local communities can do that, local businesses can do that. I don't know yet if we can do it for the country," President Biden said.
A growing number of local businesses are also weighing in after Gov. Cuomo suggested they deny unvaccinated customers.
"It's really the honor system, we go by whoever comes in here we trust that they took the responsibility to get vaccinated," said Cassandra Morettil, of Boiano Bakery in Mamaroneck.
"Nobody really wants to say no, and they want to try to figure out how to say yes while protecting everybody's health," said Sara Brody, executive director of the Yonkers Downtown Business Improvement District.
Proof of vaccination is implemented at some venues and colleges; however, local businesses say they don't want to deny unvaccinated guests -- especially as some are still trying to get back on their feet.
Despite the weekly testing option for those who don't want to get the shot, there has been pushback from many who say they feel these mandates are violating their civil rights.
"I'm a teacher in New York City, and I do not appreciate having to be told what to do, to be mandated to be vaccinated. It's my choice," said Alicia Samela, of New Rochelle.
"I'm vaccinated -- that was my choice. I know there are a lot of people that are not vaccinated, and they have the right to be vaccinated if they want or not," said Minnie Zaccaro, also of New Rochelle.
Pace University law professor Bennett Gershman says that courts “firmly” say that it is not an infringement on civil rights.
“The state has the power to protect the public health, the public welfare, the public safety by requiring people to get vaccinated,” Gershman says.
There are leaders from other municipalities in the Hudson Valley that say they are discussing similar vaccine mandates for their employees and expect to make announcements soon.