City employees must vaccinate or take weekly COVID-19 tests

Medical assistant Florelyn Adajar holds a vial of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine. (Feb. 6, 2021) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Beginning Sunday, Aug. 1, the city of Cordova will require all its employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or to be tested weekly for the virus, officials announced Tuesday, July 27.

The city doesn’t have enough first-responder personnel to cover a large number of unplanned absences due to illness or exposure to the virus, City Manager Helen Howarth said. Cordova’s ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, which resulted in over 80 people testing positive for the virus in three weeks, has already affected some city services. Cordova’s Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles office has been closed intermittently since July 19 due to short-staffing caused by the mandatory quarantining of an emergency dispatcher and by cross-staffing between emergency dispatch and the DMV office.

The city also wants to ensure that Cordova’s COVID-19 case count is low enough to support in-person education during the fall, Howarth said.

“I’m asking city employees to lead by example,” Howarth said in a release.

Employees will be able to upload proof of their vaccination status via a secure online portal, according to a release from the city. Testing clinics will be scheduled to accommodate employees who are not vaccinated, according to the release. The decision was coordinated with the city’s legal team and shared with the union representing city employees, according to the release.