PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — All Pennsylvania employees in state hospitals and high-risk congregate care facilities will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by early next month, Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Tuesday.
Unvaccinated people must undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. The mandate takes effect on Sept. 7.
From that point forward, all new hires must be vaccinated.
The requirement will impact about 25,000 employees, according to the governor’s office, across state hospitals, nursing homes, veterans homes and correctional institutions.
The governor also plans to enact a vaccine incentive for state workers: Starting Oct. 1, all vaccinated employees are eligible for about eight hours of paid time off. Wolf said it’s meant to reward people who have gotten the vaccine and to encourage people who haven’t decided yet.
“We’ll give you a day off,” he said. “That’s pretty good — you get a day off if you get the vaccine.”
The governor said he would be in favor of using federal American Rescue Plan money to pay people to get vaccinated.
So far, more than 63% of adults in Pennsylvania are fully vaccinated, ranking fifth among all states for total doses given.
“Sixty-three percent still leaves far too many eligible Pennsylvanians unvaccinated, which puts their communities at risk,” Wolf noted in a statement. “Vaccines are free, available, and effective. I encourage every eligible Pennsylvanian who hasn’t gotten vaccinated to sign up today.”
Asked if he had plans to enact a statewide mask mandate, Wolf again said no. As for masks in schools, he said the state continues to strongly recommend districts follow CDC guidance, but the final decision is up to each district. The CDC recommends all students and staff in K-12 wear masks.