Charlotte will start verifying the COVID-19 vaccination status of city government workers next week, but it is a far less rigorous system than what Mecklenburg County announced Monday.
City employees must complete the vaccine verification form within 10 days of it becoming available, according to a human resources memo that was shared with the Observer Thursday afternoon.
The new process was spurred on by the highly contagious delta variant that’s led to soaring new cases and hospitalizations in and around Charlotte.
“The city believes that the best way to protect our employees and the community we serve is through vaccination,” the memo stated, “which is why the city is requiring employees to share information about their vaccination status.”
Charlotte has about about 8,000 employees, city spokesman Cory Burkarth said.
Vaccination status forms will remain confidential.
The aggregate information on employee vaccination rates will create “baseline data” for City Manager Marcus Jones as he considers additional vaccination policies, according to the memo.
Jones may also use the data to “implement further safety measures related to stopping or slowing the spread of COVID-19,” according to the memo.
Masks and COVID testing
The city of Charlotte did not specify what temporary or long-term regulations might be imposed to reduce coronavirus risks.
For example, the city stopped short of imposing a weekly coronavirus testing requirement if employees do not get inoculated by a certain date.
Unvaccinated Mecklenburg County government workers, by contrast, will need to produce a negative COVID test each week starting Sept. 7, County Manager Dena Diorio wrote in her “board bulletin” to the community on Monday. County health department employees must provide proof of vaccination on that date, Mecklenburg announced last week.
The city and county also differ on masking rules.
At a City Council meeting this week, masks were recommended but Charlotte was not requiring or enforcing them, Burkarth had told the Observer.
Diorio said face coverings are now required indoors at all county buildings, regardless of vaccination status. Unvaccinated county employees must also wear face coverings outdoors if they cannot practice social distancing.
Once Mecklenburg verifies employees’ vaccination status, Diorio said, fully immunized people will no longer need to wear masks.
Mecklenburg’s new policies align with recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC said people — regardless of their vaccination status — to resume wearing masks inside public places in areas experiencing substantial or high coronavirus transmission.
That applies to the Charlotte region and most of North Carolina.
On average, Mecklenburg is adding 390 new cases each day, compared to 33 at this point last month.
From July 7-30, the caseload rose by more than 200%, fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant, Mecklenburg Public Health Director Gibbie Harris told county commissioners Wednesday. One in five cases were in children under age 18, Harris said.
Half of Mecklenburg residents are now fully vaccinated, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported Thursday.