New COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate for Virginia state employees falls under Standards of Conduct policy

Virginia

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The mandate requiring Virginia state employees to show proof that they’re vaccinated against COVID-19, starts today, September 1.

It’s part of a state requirement that Gov. Ralph Northam issued nearly a month ago. State employees must show proof of vaccination or submit COVID-19 test results every week or they face potential consequences.

The governor says this order will protect state workers.

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“The only way to end this pandemic is to for everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” Northam said last month. “As head of state government, we have a responsibility to lead by example and ensure the safety of our employees and the people they serve. The three vaccines are safe, effective, free, and widely available, and I strongly urge every eligible Virginian to get their shot. The time for waiting is over.”

10 On Your Side confirmed with Virginia’s Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) that the mandate falls under the Standards of Conduct policy. If a state employee fails to disclose their vaccination status or is not fully vaccinated and refuses to wear a mask or comply with weekly testing, these standards will apply.

“These standards apply to all positions covered by the Virginia Personnel Act, including non-probationary full- time and part-time classified and restricted employees. Agencies may use this policy as a guide for evaluating the workplace conduct of employees who are not covered by the Virginia Personnel Act, such as wage employees, probationary employees and employees expressly excluded from the Act’s coverage.

“Each situation must be carefully evaluated on the individual facts and circumstances prior to making a determination to issue disciplinary action. In accordance with the Standards of Conduct policy, employees must be notified in advance of the alleged offense and provided with an opportunity to respond to the allegations within a reasonable timeframe.”

Anne Waring, DHRM Communications & Public Relations Manage

This mandate impacts nearly 122,000 state employees. Even if fully vaccinated, they will still be required to wear a mask and social distance when possible. 

Northam hopes other businesses and local governments will start to require vaccinations to help prevent the spread of the virus.

“I really encourage local governments and private companies to do the same thing,” Northam said.

This mandate goes into effect as all of Virginia’s key COVID-19 metrics continue to trend upward and are the highest they’ve been since the spring when vaccinations started to be widespread. As of Tuesday, Virginia was reporting a daily average of 3,178 new cases per day, as well as a daily average of 21 deaths per day.

State health data shows that early all new cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated.

Read Northam’s full order.

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