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GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Governor Roy Cooper has called on private businesses to get employees vaccinated and keep unvaccinated employees masked. 

It came as new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have exploded across North Carolina, doubling in two weeks. Cooper said the dangerous Delta variant is to blame for the increase in cases.

On Thursday 55% of people 12 or older are vaccinated in North Carolina, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Cooper said it’s a number too low to defeat the Delta variant.  

“We need the private sector to help us increase vaccine rates,” said Cooper. “Right now, being a good corporate citizen means getting your people vaccinated. Our economy depends on it in addition to our health.” 

Cooper issued new restrictions for his employees in a 10-page executive order

According to the order, people who work for the Governor’s Office or are headed by members of the Governor’s Cabinet are required to provide proof of vaccination status by September 1. If the employee is not vaccinated, they must wear a mask while at work and go through weekly COVID-19 testing. 

“Don’t wait until skyrocketing numbers threaten to shut businesses,” Cooper said.

It’s a requirement Cooper said all businesses should start doing and something employers are weighing for their workers.  

“As we evolve as professionals and in the professional world there are going to be a lot of changes,” said Blake Odum, a talent outreach specialist at Cross Company in Greensboro. “A vaccination is not only helping keep us safe — it’s helping keep others safe, for those of us who feel inclined to get vaccinated should definitely do so.” 

Odum told companies are still adapting to the challenges of the pandemic.  

“Going back to what we consider to be normal, although it may be comfortable, it may not be the best option,” he said.  

Elizabeth Cooper, an early talent acquisition specialist at Syngenta, told FOX8 most employees are still working from home to stop the possible spread in the global company. 

Workers who must come into the office could easily get the shot.

“We kind of didn’t miss a beat,” said Cooper. “A vaccine drive for the employees, so that was a great opportunity for them to take advantage of if they wanted to.” 

Employees are not required to get the vaccine at both companies, but those still thinking about getting the shot must keep their masks on. “People have their personal reasons, their religious reasons, it’s totally acceptable,” said Odum. “Should you opt-out of the vaccine, you should still take all the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe and also to keep others safe.”