Unvaccinated Atlantic County employees will be required to have weekly COVID-19 tests beginning next week.

County Executive Denny Levinson made that announcement Wednesday, saying, “The steps we are taking are necessary to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 at this critical time."

In a press release, Levison said extreme times require extreme measures.

“We are living in extraordinary times, so extraordinary measures must be implemented.  In December, before vaccinations were available, we were averaging about 3,000 deaths per day. Now with 54% of America fully vaccinated, there are 2,000 deaths per day with the vast majority of hospitalizations and fatalities among the unvaccinated. This virus is deadly serious. So for the near future, we will strictly adhere to this policy.”

According to state officials, 99% of new cases in New Jersey are attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant. All 21 New Jersey counties are identified as having a high risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Atlantic County employees at Meadowview Nursing Center and the Justice Facility already provide proof of vaccination or submit to weekly testing. The county’s testing policy will now cover all full-time, part-time and seasonal employees in all departments and facilities.

“We have vetted this latest requirement with all 17 employee unions and incorporated their recommendations,” Levinson said. “They understand the importance of these safeguards. Their cooperation has been crucial in implementing this policy.”

Employees who cannot provide proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccination must provide a negative test result each week to report to work. For their convenience, the county is providing free testing for employees at five on-site county locations.

President Biden announced vaccination requirements for the federal government in July and called on the private sector to do more to encourage vaccination as well.

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The federal government says that since that time, employers, schools, nursing homes, restaurants, hospitals, and cities in all 50 states have announced new vaccination requirements. Since July, the share of job postings that require vaccination are up 90%.

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