Thousands of New York City municipal workers could be placed on unpaid leave after refusing to get vaccinated for coronavirus ahead of a Monday deadline.
Among municipal workers, about 90 percent have received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine, leaving just under 23,000 workers unvaccinated as of Sunday evening, according to the New York Times. Around half of unvaccinated workers have applied for medical exemptions to the mandate and will be able to work while their applications are pending, PIX 11 and ABC 7 NY reported.
While the specific nature of the medical exemption requests were unclear, Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansboro has argued that as much as 70 percent of city firefighters have already contracted COVID-19 and thus have acquired immunity. City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi, however, has said the “strength and duration of that immunity remains unknown.”
City departments with the lowest vaccination rates include the Department of Corrections (63 percent), the Fire Department (75 percent), and Department of Sanitation (82 percent), while the NYPD recorded an 84-percent vaccination rate as of Sunday. Officials from the FDNY union warned at a news conference on Monday that response times could rise amid staffing shortages caused by the mandate.
Amid the potential for possible worker shortages, although Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration insisted that municipal services would continue.
“With such strong numbers and dedicated public servants who never fail to go above and beyond, we expect services to run smoothly,” de Blasio press secretary Danielle Filson said in a statement. “With such strong numbers and dedicated public servants who never fail to go above and beyond, we expect services to run smoothly.”