ECONOMY

Mandate for U.S. Federal Workers; NYC Cases Climb: Virus Update

President Joe Biden will require federal workers to prove they’ve been vaccinated or wear masks and submit to frequent coronavirus testing as the delta variant causes cases to spike in the U.S. His administration is also calling on states and local governments to provide $100 to people who get vaccinated.

New York City’s daily average cases passed 1,000 for the first time in almost three months, though hospitalizations remain relatively low. Diners soon will be required to be vaccinated to eat indoors at some of the city’s most famous restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Café.

Israel will start giving third doses of Pfizer’s vaccine to people over age 60, becoming the first country to widely roll out booster shots intended to halt a resurgent spread of the virus.

Saudi Arabia Lifts Tourist Ban (5:30 p.m. NY)

Saudi Arabia’s tourism ministry announced it will allow tourists to enter the kingdom starting Aug. 1 and is lifting the suspension of tourism visas, state-run SPA reported. Fully vaccinated travelers won’t need to quarantine but will be required to provide proof of vaccination and a negative test issued 72 hours prior to departure.

Jefferies Mandates Vaccines for Office Return (5:30 p.m. NY)

Jefferies Financial Group Inc. is mandating that employees who wish to return to its offices must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

After hearing from concerned staffers, the New York-based investment bank decided that those who aren’t fully vaccinated will be required to continue to work from home after the Labor Day holiday, Chief Executive Officer Rich Handler and President Brian Friedman said in a memo on the firm’s website.

Jefferies has had 40 new cases of this month, including two short hospitalizations, according to the memo. More than 90% of the employees who contracted the coronavirus were vaccinated, Handler and Friedman said.

Uber Requires Worker Vaccines (4:52 p.m. NY)

Uber Technologies Inc. is postponing its return-to-office date from September to Oct. 25, and has told employees that it could be further delayed depending on the global coronavirus case load.

The company also said that it would mandate that all employees in the office be vaccinated starting Monday. With the announcement, San Francisco-based Uber is joining a growing number of large tech employers requiring vaccines. Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google have issued similar mandates as the number of coronavirus infections rises.

N. Carolina Says Workers Must be Vaccinated or Tested (4:30 p.m. NY)

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said he would require state employees to get vaccinated or be tested weekly as the state sees an increase in cases driven by people who are unvaccinated, his office said in a statement.

“Until more people get the vaccine, we will continue living with the very real threat of serious disease, and we will continue to see more dangerous and contagious variants like Delta,” the Democratic governor said.

U.S. Imposes Mandate for Federal Workers (4:03 p.m. NY)

President Joe Biden will require federal workers to prove they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19 or wear masks and submit to frequent coronavirus testing as the delta variant causes cases to spike.

The rules will cover millions of federal workers, including the military and on-site contractors, according to the White House. Biden, who will announce the requirement Thursday, also asked his team to take steps to apply similar standards to all federal contractors and encourage private sector employers to follow the same approach.

The requirements come in response to vaccine holdouts, whose refusal to get shots has allowed the delta variant to spread.

Arkansas Declares Emergency (3:50 p.m. NY)

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson declared a public health emergency, with cases at levels of the surge in January and hospitals overwhelmed. As he announced the emergency, he said four Covid patients were in ambulances waiting for spaces in hospitals.

“That constitutes an emergency and a public health crisis,” the Republican governor said in a news conference.

In declaring the emergency, the governor said he would be able to request help from the federal government and medical assistance from other states. He said he would also ask the legislature to amend a law prohibiting mask mandates to allow localities to decide on whether children too young to be eligible for vaccines should wear masks.

Biden Pushes for $100 Vaccine Incentive (3:27 pm. NY)

President Joe Biden’s administration is calling on states and local governments to provide $100 to people who get vaccinated using the $350 billion of aid that his administration has provided them.

On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said $100 would be given to any resident who got a first shot at a city run vaccination site.

New Mexico Requires Vaccines or Testing (2:59 p.m. NY)

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday signed an executive order requiring all state employees to either be fully vaccinated or otherwise submit to regular testing, according to a press release.

Employees not fully vaccinated will be required to show a negative test at least once every two weeks. Unvaccinated employees must also wear a face mask when indoors during employment. Those who don’t comply subject to disciplinary action, including termination.

“Right now, it’s very simple: Get a vaccine, or else you will be tested,” Lujan Grisham said.

D.C. Reimposes Indoor Mask Mandate (2:25 p.m. NY)

The District of Columbia will require the wearing of masks indoors as the delta variant causes cases of the coronavirus to surge, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Thursday.

“People over the age of 2 must wear a mask indoors regardless of their vaccination status,” Bowser said at a press conference.

The announcement comes as the city has seen a five-fold increase in the daily case rate since the beginning of July.

N.J. Cases, Hospitalizations Accelerate (2:10 p.m. NY)

New Jersey reported more than 1,000 new cases for the first time since early May, according to state data.

Hospitals logged 480 patients, a 35% increase over one week. The sickest patients, those on ventilators, numbered 35. That figure hasn’t exceeded 40 since last month.

Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat who is running for re-election in November, on Wednesday said he strongly recommended face masks indoors even for people who have been vaccinated. He stopped short of mandating face coverings but said that if numbers continue to increase, he may issue such an order.

Israel to Give Boosters to Over 60s (1:59 p.m. NY)

Israel will start giving third doses of Pfizer Inc.’s Covid-19 vaccine to people over age 60, becoming the first country to widely roll out booster shots intended to halt a resurgent spread of the virus.

Starting Sunday, those who received a second dose more than five months ago will be eligible for the booster, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a televised address on Thursday.

“Reality has proven that the vaccines are safe,” Bennett said. Israel has already given a third dose to 2,000 immuno-compromised people and seen “no severe adverse events,” he said.

Top NYC Restaurants Require Guests to be Vaccinated (1:54 p.m. NY)

Starting Sept. 7, you will have to be vaccinated to eat indoors at some of New York’s most famous dining rooms, including Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Café.

Danny Meyer, chief executive officer at Union Square Hospitality Group LLC and the chairman of New York City’s Economic Development Corporation, announced Thursday that eating indoors at any of his restaurants, which also include the Modern at the Museum of Modern Art, will require proof of vaccine.

Meyer made clear to Bloomberg that this move does not impact Shake Shack Inc., the burger empire that he founded, even for requiring proof of vaccination for employees.

Durst Mandates Vaccines (1:15 p.m. NY)

The Durst Organization, the New York City real estate firm, is requiring employees to be vaccinated by September 6 or face termination, a company spokesman said.

“People need to be in an environment that they are safe in,” Jordan Barowitz said.

The directive applies to all the company’s more than 1,000 workers, though any direct termination only applies to the 350 corporate staff, whom Barowitz said largely supported the mandate. A vaccination policy for unionized workers, which includes cleaners, security, building operators and doormen, is being negotiated.

Louisiana Cuts Back on Non-Covid Care (1:03 p.m. NY)

Almost all of Louisiana’s hospitals have canceled or postponed surgeries and other non-emergency care, and many can’t accept transfers of critical patients, as a delta-fueled surge in infections grows there, said Joseph Kanter, state health officer of the Louisiana Department of Health, on a call with reporters Thursday.

The number of patients hospitalized with Covid in Louisiana has increased sixfold in the past four weeks, he said, adding that health officials are finding it difficult to project how the outbreak will evolve. “Nobody really knows how to model delta appropriately,” Kanter said.

N.Y. Calls Out Facebook for Misinformation in Spanish (12:26 p.m. NY)

New York Attorney General Letitia James called on Facebook to do more to address false information spreading on its platform in Latino communities, much of which she said is in Spanish. She asked that the company share policies that address Covid-19 misinformation targeted toward Latinos across all of its platforms including WhatsApp and Instagram.

Facebook has a “comprehensive strategy to combat Covid-19 misinformation in Spanish,” including machine learning and fact checkers, said Will Castleberry, vice president of state and local public policy.

Biden Calls for Extension of Eviction Moratorium (11:02 a.m. NY)

President Joe Biden on Thursday called on Congress to extend a moratorium on home evictions that is set to expire on July 31 as the delta variant of Covid-19 continues to spread throughout the U.S.

In recent days, Democratic lawmakers and housing advocates have called for extending the eviction moratorium beyond the July 31 deadline. But it isn’t clear Congress can act in time, even if there’s enough political support for an extension.

NYC Cases Top 1,000 a Day (10:52 a.m. NY)

New York City surpassed 1,000 new daily cases on a seven-day average this week for the first time since early May, beginning Monday with 1,032 recorded. Tuesday’s seven-day average totaled 1,008.

The upward trend has concerned city health officials, leading Mayor Bill de Blasio to offer $100 pre-paid cash cards to everyone who gets a shot starting Friday. The city has fallen short of a goal to get at least 5 million New Yorkers vaccinated by the end of June, according to Health Department data.

Hospitalizations due to the virus remained relatively low with 98 suspected cases as of July 27, amounting to less than one person per 100,000.

Citi Reinstates Mask Rules (7:18 a.m. NY)

Citigroup Inc. has gone back to requiring employees — regardless of their vaccination status — to don masks when they’re in the office, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Workers can remove their masks when at their desks or while eating in the cafeteria, according to the person, who asked not to be identified discussing personnel information.

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