The City of New Bedford is no longer requiring municipal employees to either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or, if they choose not to be vaccinated, submit to weekly COVID testing.

It was announced today that the City was suspending its vaccination/testing policy “due to a precipitous decline in the COVID cases locally,” according to a City of New Bedford press release. New Bedford has seen a 96 percent decline in cases since hitting the peak of daly cases back on January 7 of this year.

Mayor Jon Mitchell issued the directive that ends the vaccinating/testing policy immediately.

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“Employees who had chosen to comply with the policy by producing a negative COVID test on a weekly basis will no longer be required to do so, and new employees will not be required to submit proof of vaccination going forward,” according to the release.

The employee vaccination/testing policy was announced in August 2021 and put into effect on November 15, and according to the City, “825 municipal employees subject to the policy were recorded as fully vaccinated—a rate of 74 percent, compared to New Bedford’s general population vaccination rate of about 57 percent.”

The City also said more than 200 employees opted for weekly testing over vaccination.

“In many instances, the weekly tests revealed COVID infections that would have otherwise gone undiagnosed,” the release stated. “As a result, COVID-positive employees were prevented from coming into work and likely infecting colleagues or residents with whom they would have interacted.

The policy did not cover school personnel, which were subject to policies of New Bedford Public Schools.

According to the City, no employees were fired or suspended due to non-compliance of the policy. The door was also left open for potentially implementing the policy in the future.

“The City reserves the right to reinstitute the vaccination and testing policy should a new COVID-related public health threat emerge in the future,” the release stated.

Where to Find Free COVID Tests on the SouthCoast

There are currently 30 sites that offer free testing on the SouthCoast. Not all are permanent fixtures and some are only for residents of that town or city. Here is a breakdown for those seeking free tests in the area.
This information was found using the link in addition to other resources.

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