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An update on COVID-19 and agency operations

From: University Relations

Editor's note: The following memo came from Clark Mercer, chief of staff for Gov. Ralph Northam, and was issued to all state employees. We are publishing the memo to provide further guidance on on how Virginia Tech will apply these guidelines.  

As the Commonwealth is making significant progress in our fight against COVID-19, I am writing to share with you more good news. Last week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made an abrupt change in course as it relates to the wearing of face coverings and physical distancing for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. To align with this guidance, Governor Northam has lifted the universal indoor mask mandate.

This means that fully-vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks in most indoor settings, except on public transit, in health care facilities, and in congregate settings. Businesses retain the ability to require masks in their establishments. Employees who work in certain business sectors—including restaurants, retail, fitness, personal care, and entertainment—must continue to wear masks unless fully vaccinated, per CDC guidance. Those who are unvaccinated or not fully-vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear masks in all settings.

I want to be clear in that employees who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a face covering as described above. Fully vaccinated means more than two weeks have passed since receiving the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) or more than two weeks has passed after receiving a single dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson). If fully vaccinated and you are still uncomfortable around others, please continue to wear your face covering knowing that you have our support to do so.

Employees who have not been vaccinated need to wear a face covering and also make arrangements to get a vaccination. It is simply the right thing to do to protect your individual health and the health of those around you including your family, friends and coworkers. Although employers are allowed to ask employees if they are vaccinated, we would rather not have to mandate such a practice in our state agencies. We would much rather keep our focus on celebrating those that are vaccinated and educating those who remain on the fence about doing so.

As Commonwealth employees you have demonstrated your ability to do the right things and I know I can count on you to continue.

Thanks for your continued good work.

Clark Mercer,
Chief of Staff,
Governor's Cabinet

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