Lewes could soon require vaccines for city staff
The city of Lewes may join the state in requiring vaccinations or weekly testing for its employees.
While state employees will be required to be vaccinated, or undergo weekly testing by the end of this month, cities have been hesitant to follow suit.
But The Lewes Board of Health sees it as a necessity to protect staff and ensure a prosperous resort community.
The city has implemented various incentives to get more city staff vaccinated, but board member Susan Maedler says that’s not enough.
“It annoys me that people are being given incentives to do what the rest of us have done because we thought it was right,” she said.
City Manager Ann Marie Townshend says they’ve made good progress so far on vaccinations.
“We have, I would say, a majority of our workforce is vaccinated,” said Townshend. “But we have two departments where we still have significant numbers of staff unvaccinated.”
One of those departments is the maintenance department, which Townshend says at least four staff are out sick with COVID right now.
Lewes Mayor Ted Becker says a mandate is important to protect both the staff, and the tourists that visit the city. A mandate would make it easier to ensure the town’s economy remains strong.
State employees and healthcare workers will need to be vaccinated by the end of September, or undergo weekly testing. That requirement was announced by Gov. John Carney in mid-August.
And so far, no other cities or county governments have followed suit, though some are considering the possibility.
The board voted unanimously to recommend a mandate requiring city staff to get vaccinated, or to undergo weekly testing on their own dime.
City Council will have to approve the mandate at its next meeting, but Lewes could be one of the first cities in Delaware requiring vaccinations.
Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.