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San Antonio, Bexar County could make workers get vaccinated, setting off possible legal fight 

click to enlarge A woman receives her COVID-19 vaccination at the Alamodome. - COURTESY / CITY OF SAN ANTONIO
  • Courtesy / City of San Antonio
  • A woman receives her COVID-19 vaccination at the Alamodome.
As leaders in other parts of the country require government employees to get  COVID-19 vaccinations, San Antonio and Bexar County are considering following suit, the Express-News reports.

Such a step would come as vaccination rates plateau and the highly contagious delta variant leads to a rise in infections, hospitalizations and deaths in Texas. California and New York City this week said they will make employees get the vaccine or submit to weekly coronavirus tests. Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to mandate COVID vaccinations for frontline staff.

“We are supportive of the efforts of New York and California,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and County Judge Nelson Wolff said in a joint statement supplied to Express-News. “We will be reviewing the legalities and practicalities of requiring a COVID-19 vaccine and/or weekly testing in conformity with CDC guidelines in order to protect the health and well-being of city/county workforce.”

A city and county vaccine mandate would apply to roughly 18,000 workers, according to the daily, which reports that both Nirenberg and Wolff are unsure whether the requirement would be allowable under state law.

During the course of the pandemic, leaders of Texas' largest municipalities have repeatedly had their efforts to curb the spread of COVID shut down by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

In April, Abbott issued an executive order that blocks state agencies, political subdivisions and publicly funded organizations from creating "vaccine passports." The following month, he mandated that public schools and other government entities can no longer require masks.

During a news conference last week, Abbott said the state is “past the time of government mandates” and “into the time for personal responsibility.”

As of last Tuesday, only 43% of Texans have been fully vaccinated, which lags the Mayo Clinic's national vaccination rate of 48.8%. Meanwhile, the White House last week announced that Texas, Florida and Missouri — all of which have lower-than-average vaccination rates — accounted for 40% of all cases nationwide.

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