The Louisiana Capitol Building, April 8, 2021. (Wes Muller/Louisiana Illuminator).
Louisiana state workers who are not vaccinated will soon be subjected to mandatory testing and “other requirements” now that the federal government gave full approval for the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Monday, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office. Those additional requirements for unvaccinated state employees will go into effect “very soon,” Edwards’ office said.
“We strongly encourage our employees to get their vaccines before these new requirements go into place so that they can protect themselves, their coworkers and the people they serve,” said Christina Stephens, spokeswoman for the governor, in a written statement.
Louisiana state government has about 70,000 employees — but it’s not clear how many people will be subjected to new COVID-19 guidelines, said Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, who manages state government for the governor.
Louisiana state government is one of the largest employers in the state, though not all state workers are under the governor’s control. Some agencies are headed up by other statewide elected officials, such as Attorney General Jeff Landry, who have resisted vaccine and masking requirements.
State employees who don’t get vaccinated against COVID-19 will not have to pay for their own testing, Dardenne said.
Many Louisiana state agencies have not been tracking whether their workers are vaccinated or not. These include agencies that regularly interact with the public, such as Louisiana State Police, according to interviews conducted by the Louisiana Illuminator over the past two weeks.
Those agencies who are collecting information about the vaccination rates of their workforces have been relying on self-reporting from employees. The Department of Corrections, for example, says that over 50 percent of their correctional officers working in prisons are vaccinated, but that’s based on information supplied by the employees voluntarily. The prison system has not been asking people to provide proof of vaccination.
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