RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The State of North Carolina has over 80,000 employees, and beginning Wednesday, at least 50,000 of them are now required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or submit to weekly testing.

The policy, which is in place because of an executive order issued by Gov. Roy Cooper back in July, requires that state employees in cabinet-level agencies either be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and show proof of vaccination or test negative for the virus every week.

The policy applies to agencies that are either part of the governor’s office or are led by a person in the governor’s cabinet. Agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Public Safety, Department of Environmental Quality, and the Department of Transportation are all subject to the policy.

While not required, other state and local government agencies are strongly encouraged by Cooper to adopt the same policy.

“If you are infected, and you are vaccinated, your chances of getting seriously ill and your chances of dying go way, way down,” Cooper said at a Nash County vaccine event on Tuesday.

The policy takes effect in the midst of a surge of coronavirus cases and deaths across the state. Nearly all of the cases and deaths are among those who are not vaccinated, data shows.

“You are 15 times more likely to die if you’re infected with COVID if you have not been vaccinated,” Cooper said at Tuesday’s event. “That should be enough alone to convince people to get a vaccination.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 3,600 people are in hospitals statewide with the virus and just under 15,000 North Carolinians have died from COVID-19. The percent of COVID tests that came back positive was at 14.6 on Tuesday.

To read the full policy, click here.