New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) has changed the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for every worker in the city by removing the option for testing and threatening to place those who do not comply by Oct. 29 on unpaid leave.
Per a statement released by de Blasio’s office on Wednesday, with the new rule, city workers will get a $500 incentive if they get at least one jab at a vaccination site run by the city before 5 p.m. on Oct. 29. Any worker who fails to do so will be placed on unpaid leave until they can show proof that they received at least one dose.
On Wednesday, the NYC Mayor can be heard saying on MSNBC that the phase for people voluntarily getting the shot “was very long.” He added that they want people to know they “need” to do this step.
The order, to be signed by Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi formally on Wednesday, will apply to around 160,500 city workers. According to NYC, 71% of the said workers affected by the order have already gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19. However, 46,545 unvaccinated employees may lose their jobs if they refuse to get vaccinated.
In de Blasio’s statement, the mayor called serving New York City residents a “privilege.” He added that this “privilege” goes hand in hand with the “responsibility” of making sure the community remains safe.
According to data reported by NYC Health, almost 66% of residents have reached “fully vaccinated” status. This rate is higher than the national average, which is at 57%, as recorded by the CDC.
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The New York City mayor then added: “We have led the way against COVID-19 – from fighting for the right to vaccinate frontline workers, to providing nation-leading incentives, to creating the Key to NYC mandate … As we continue our recovery for all of us, city workers have been a daily inspiration. Now is the time for them to show their city the path out of this pandemic once and for all.”
According to de Blasio’s statement, NYC will start “impact bargaining” with unions that are affected.
With the order taking effect, Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York (PBA) President Patrick J. Lynch had already released a statement, threatening that they will pursue legal action against the city as a response to the mandate.
Lynch said: “From the beginning of the de Blasio administration’s haphazard vaccine rollout, we have fought to make the vaccine available to every member who chooses it, while also protecting their right to make that personal medical decision in consultation with their own doctor. Now that the city has moved to unilaterally impose a mandate, we will proceed with legal action to protect our members’ rights.”
Police and firefighters in the city, who have allegedly resisted the mandate even more than other government worker groups, also have to follow the new requirement. The city revealed that Department of Corrections employees also need to reply, but they have until Dec. 1 to do so while NYC “works diligently to address the ongoing staffing situation on Rikers Island.” It added that inmates have managed to seize “near-total control over entire units” at Rikers Island jail.
NYC has also bragged about the city’s vaccination rates for people working in healthcare and in schools, who also have to follow the mandate.
The statement reads: “Department of Education (DOE) and New York City Health and Hospitals (H+H) workers have been subject to vaccination mandates since late September; today, vaccination rates at DOE and H+H are 96% and 95%, respectively.”
It, however, did not mention the fact that thousands of healthcare workers and educators have been laid off or placed on unpaid leave as a result of the city’s vaccine mandate.