(Reuters) – New York’s governor on Monday urged businesses to turn away unvaccinated customers while Florida is grappling with a surge in hospitalized COVID patients, both sparked by rising cases of the Delta variant that could result in new restrictions on daily life.
Florida, whose governor has resisted mask or vaccine mandates, has one of the worst outbreaks in the nation and about one-quarter of the country’s hospitalized COVID patients, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The head of Florida’s hospital association said the current surge sent COVID hospitalizations skyrocketing to 10,000 from 2,000 in less than 30 days, although deaths have remained well below the previous peak.
“It is a much younger population that is being hospitalized today,” Mary Mayhew told MSNBC on Monday. At one Jacksonville hospital, the average age is 42, she said. “We have 25-year-olds in the hospital in intensive care on ventilators,” she told the cable network. “We’ve got to convince 25-year-olds, 30-year-olds, that this is now life-threatening for them.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also sounded the alarm, urging but not mandating bars, restaurants and other private businesses to require all customers be vaccinated before entering. The Democratic governor also said that vaccines could become mandatory for nursing home workers, teachers and healthcare workers if case numbers do not improve.
“Private businesses – I am asking them and suggesting to them to go to vaccine-only admission,” Cuomo told a briefing Monday. “I believe it’s in your best business interest. If I go to a bar and I want to have a drink and I want to talk to the person next to me, I want to know that that person is vaccinated.”
Cuomo also announced that all employees of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the trains and subways, and all the workers from his state for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the region’s bridges, airports, and tunnels, would need to be vaccinated by Labor Day on Sept. 6 or submit to weekly testing.
“If you are unvaccinated the Delta variant should be a major concern to you and you should be worried about it,” Cuomo said.
The push by Cuomo marks the latest attempt by government leaders to spur reluctant Americans to get vaccinated as the Delta variant of the coronavirus surges nationwide, infecting mostly unvaccinated people.
Cuomo’s announcement comes on the heels of a decision by President Joe Biden to require millions of federal workers and contractors to show proof of vaccination or be subject to weekly or twice-weekly COVID-19 tests.
Even as cases have exploded, Governor Ron DeSantis has resisted mask mandates. Earlier this year, he and the Republican-controlled state legislature limited local officials’ ability to impose COVID-19 restrictions, and on Friday he issued an executive order barring schools from requiring face coverings when classes resume this month.
That order came days after the Broward County school board voted to require masks for students and staff. The superintendent of Miami-Dade schools had also said the district would reconsider whether to require masks in light of the surge.
Some local governments have also sought to impose public health measures despite DeSantis’ opposition. The village of Key Biscayne began requiring masks on Monday for all employees as well as any visitors to government buildings.
Both Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties last week said that all adults would be required to wear masks when inside county facilities. Orange County, home to Disney World, has ordered all employees to get vaccinated, with an Aug. 31 deadline for the first dose.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax in Princeton, New Jersey and Nathan Layne in Wilton, Connecticut; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)