Meck County issues mask mandate, weekly testing for unvaccinated workers

CHARLOTTE — Mecklenburg county is putting some COVID-19 safety protocols back in place. Starting next month, some county employees will need to show proof of vaccination or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

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County Manager Dena Diorio said in an email this new policy will apply only to county government employees, not general county employees.

Starting Sept. 1, those county workers will have to show proof of vaccination. Anyone who is not vaccinated must undergo weekly COVID testing starting Sept. 7.

Until then, all county employees must wear a mask indoors. Once the vaccine verification program is fully implemented, vaccinated employees will no longer have to wear a mask.

[‘I’m not going to be forced’: Hundreds protest Atrium, Novant’s employee vaccine mandate]

“The delta variant of COVID-19 spreads significantly faster compared to earlier strains and has become the predominant variant in our area,” county officials said in a news release. “While some vaccinated individuals can get the delta variant in a breakthrough infection, vaccinated individuals represent a very small amount of transmission occurring across the country.

The county’s new policy came on the same day the county reached a grim milestone, reporting its COVID-19 death toll since the pandemic began in March 2020 has reached 1,000.

Currently, the county has an average positive test rate of 11%. Health officials want that number to be under 4%.

In Mecklenburg County, 52% of those eligible have been partially vaccinated.

New measures that have been added to the county’s Stage 3 return on Aug. 1:

  • Face Coverings: Due to the County’s high rates of COVID-19 transmission, all county employees will be required to wear face coverings indoors in all county buildings regardless of vaccination status beginning Aug. 1. All non-vaccinated employees must also wear face coverings outdoors on County property if unable to socially distance. Face coverings are not required when eating, drinking or by yourself in an office or cubicle.
  • Vaccination Verification and COVID-19 Testing Program: Consistent with governor’s latest Executive Order #224, the county will initiate a process to verify the vaccination status of county employees by Sept. 1. This decision does not require all county employees to receive the vaccine. Knowing the vaccination status of county employees is an important tool to help us understand and manage our internal response to the pandemic. Those who are unvaccinated will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test result to Human Resources on a weekly basis beginning Sept. 7. Once this program is implemented, fully vaccinated employees will no longer be required to wear a face covering in county facilities.
  • Telework: The county’s Stage 3 plan has been revised and will be from Aug. 1 - Oct. 1. Departments may continue to utilize the county’s telework policy up to three days per week for eligible employees.

(WATCH BELOW: Hundreds gather at Freedom Park to protest Atrium, Novant Health’s employee vaccine mandate)