Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

On Tuesday, Mayor Keller announced that City employees will now be required to either show proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing. The announcement comes after weeks of rising COVID infections and COVID-related hospitalizations. “The situation is, unfortunately, getting a lot worse,” Keller said.

The recent announcement will align with OSHA regulations that federal and state employees adhere to.

Deputy Director of City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department Mark DiMenna noted that the Omicron variant is far more infectious than previous strains. “We’re still continuing to see a huge amount of cases piling up,” Dimenna noted on the recent trends. The highly infectious nature of Omicron has also strained Albuquerque’s health services, with DiMenna commenting that the recent surge in cases has forced hospitals to make difficult choices on who they’re able to treat.

“It is still very much a deadly virus,” DiMenna added.

City employees have until January 21 to provide vaccination status. Unvaccinated city employees will have to submit a weekly COVID test. Any employee who tests positive and is not vaccinated will have to take unpaid sick leave.