Portland Develops Vaccination And Testing Plan For Employees

Due to rising cases of COVID-19 and the COVID-19 Delta variant, health authorities across the country are recommending increased protection measures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House, Oregon Health Authority and Multnomah County have all issued a universal face covering advisory to help reduce the rate of transmission. Effective July 28, 2021, the City has reinstated its mandatory face covering requirement for everyone in City owned or leased facilities. It is clear that this pandemic is not over, and lives are still being lost to this deadly virus.   

“As the Mayor of Portland, I am called to do whatever I can to keep our community as safe as possible,” said Mayor Wheeler. “Therefore, I have directed Office of Management and Finance staff to develop a plan that requires all City employees show one-time proof of COVID-19 vaccination or take weekly COVID-19 tests.” 

Once a plan has been developed, it will be brought before City Council for approval. The City is committed to ensuring its policies and procedures not only meet legal requirements, but also the City’s goals and equity concerns. Making decisions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations is an ongoing, dynamic, process and the City wants to ensure that employees’ personal choices are respected while at the same time ensure the highest level of safety for all employees. 

Decision makers are aware that employees may have special exemptions covered by the Americans with Disability Act or religious accommodations and other laws. The plan will include detailed information about vaccine exemptions.

The City had previously stated that requiring vaccinations contradicts the City’s core values and can contribute to the trauma of systemic racism. The City remain steadfastly committed to its values, which is why we are taking the time to carefully develop a plan that centers around our core values—specifically anti-racism and equity.   

These plans are not yet developed and the City needs to coordinate with multiple parties to finalize them.We will share additional information when it is available. 

Vaccination and wearing face coverings are the two most important actions people can take to protect themselves and others from contracting and/or transmitting COVID-19. The City employs over 7,300 public employees, many of whom work in public facilities, parks and streets.

“It is my civic responsibility to take whatever safety measures are possible to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Requiring vaccinations or weekly COVID-19 tests for all of the City’s public employees is the best way I can help protect our community,” Wheeler stated.“This decision was not made lightly. I have consulted with health authorities, leaders in other municipalities and several City colleagues on this matter and we strongly believe this is the best way we can help protect our community’s health and safety.”

Source: City of Portland

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