Hennepin County to require vaccines for all employees

Hennepin County is the latest employer in Minnesota to adopt a COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners announced Tuesday that all county employees, contractors and volunteers will be required to show proof of vaccination by Oct. 1 or submit to regular, mandatory COVID-19 tests.

The policy applies to those who spend time working in person at a county facility or in the community on the county’s behalf.

“The vaccines are safe, and highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death,” Hennepin County Public Health Director Susan Palchick said in a statement. “Every person who gets vaccinated gets us closer to ending the pandemic.”

Employers and institutions have become more stringent about COVID-19 vaccines recently as the highly infectious delta variant rages across the U.S., causing a late-summer spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Hennepin County’s requirement comes after Gov. Tim Walz announced a vaccine requirement or regular testing for all state employees. Several colleges and health care providers around the state have issued their own mandates as well.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 131,024 COVID-19 cases and 1,819 deaths reported in Hennepin County, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

To date, 78.8% of Hennepin County residents 12 years and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which outpaces the national average of 70.1%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.