Denver requires city workers in ‘high risk’ areas to get vaccinated

The city and county of Denver in Colorado announced on Monday that all city employees, as well as private-sector workers in areas where the novel coronavirus is surging will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 30. 

The city’s Twitter account posted the announcement after several companies and government organizations across the United States began reinstating mask mandates and issuing new vaccine requirements as cases of the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19 surge.

"The City and County of Denver is approving a far-reaching public health order mandating that all city employees, as well as private-sector workers in high-risk settings, be required to be fully vaccinated against #COVID19 by September 30," the announcement read.

Denver’s new public health order applies to the city’s municipal workforce of more than 10,000 employees. 

The city’s announcement pointed to the delta variant of the novel coronavirus 

"With the highly contagious Delta variant surging across much of the nation, even our 70% vaccination rate among those eligible is not enough to fully protect our residents, families, businesses, and economy from another devastating blow this fall and winter." the city’s Twitter account posted.

"Denver is a resilient city, and we must protect our people and the progress we have made together. No one wants to relive the horrors of last year. No one wants to see another city lockdown to stop a crisis that threatens to overwhelm our hospitals," the account tweeted. 

Denver’s announcement comes as state and local governments, along with private employers have begun requiring that employees get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to return to work amid a concerning rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. 

Last week, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced that VA health care personnel will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The agency said VA employees will have eight weeks to be fully vaccinated from the virus amid concern over a rise in novel coronavirus cases and the delta variant.

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Lawyers with the Justice Department determined that federal law does not prohibit public agencies and private businesses from mandating COVID-19 vaccines under emergency use authorization, according to an opinion posted by the DOJ on Monday.

Meanwhile, other cities across the country have begun implementing various health precautions aimed at curbing the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus. 

Last week, the St. Louis area became one of the first in the United States to reinstate mask requirements amid a surge in cases and low vaccination rates.

On July 15, Los Angeles County re-implemented a requirement for residents to wear masks while indoors — regardless of vaccination status — as the county continues to see a concerning rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations among the unvaccinated.

RELATED: Los Angeles County re-implementing indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status

On Monday, eight bay area counties issued a joint health order requiring masks indoors in public places, regardless of a person’s vaccination status. 

The indoor mask order, which starts just after midnight on Tuesday, covers Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties — as well as the city of Berkeley.

RELATED: Bay Area again requiring indoor masks for all

The state of Louisiana on Monday reinstated a mask mandate in all indoor locations, including schools and colleges, as the state struggles with a fast-growing fourth surge of COVID-19 driven by the delta variant and one of the nation’s lowest vaccination rates.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the mandate, which goes into effect on Wednesday, less than three months after he lifted a previous face covering requirement amid hopes that the virus was abating. The mandate will apply to anyone age 5 and older — both vaccinated and unvaccinated — who enters a business, a school, a church or other inside location. It also will cover any kindergartners if they are under the age of 5.

The new mandates come in the wake of an internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention document obtained by several news outlets, which warned that the COVID-19 delta variant could be more likely to produce severe illness and can spread as fast as chickenpox.

RELATED: COVID-19 delta variant as contagious as chickenpox, CDC internal docs warn

The documents, first reported Thursday by The Washington Post, appeared to be talking points for CDC staff to use in explaining the dangers of the delta variant and "breakthrough″ infections that can occur after vaccination. A CDC spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the documents to FOX Television Stations but declined further comment.

As the documents note, COVID-19 vaccines are still highly effective at preventing serious illness and death. The CDC has always expected some breakthrough infections but has struggled with how to explain them to the public.

The internal documents also cite studies from Canada, Singapore and Scotland showing that the delta variant may pose a greater risk for hospitalization, intensive care treatment and death than the alpha variant, first detected in the United Kingdom.

Since January, people who became infected after vaccination make up an increasing portion of hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths among COVID-19 patients, according to the documents. That trend coincides with the spread of the delta variant.

But the CDC emphasizes that breakthrough infections are still relatively rare.

This story was reported from Los Angeles. Kelly Hayes and The Associated Press contributed to this report.