New York City sanitation workers
New York City sanitation workers pickup garbage in he Flatbush section of Brooklyn, N.Y. (Bebeto Matthews/AP/Shutterstock)

9,000 Unvaccinated City Workers Put on Mandatory Unpaid Leave in NYC

When New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate kicked in earlier this week, the city was forced to place an estimated 9,000 workers who refused to get vaccinated on mandatory unpaid leave.

Politico’s Erin Durkin reported that “the requirement ordered by Mayor Bill de Blasio — one of the most aggressive in the nation — has pushed the vaccination rate among all city workers to 91%.”

“At least 21,000 city workers covered by the mandate remain unvaccinated: 9,000 who have now been barred from working and another 12,000 who have applied for religious or medical exemptions,” Durkin added.

This group of workers waiting for their exemption status will be allowed to continue their employment until final decisions are made on their request in the coming weeks. New York City’s total workforce includes approximately 378,000 individuals.

As the unpaid leaves were put into place, de Blasio reaffirmed his support for the law, saying, “this mandate was the right thing to do. We now see it worked.”

The city’s first responders and other uniformed agencies appear to be among those hit hardest by the mandate. Previously data suggested that 23% of firefighters, 17% of sanitation workers, 15% of the NYPD and 12% of emergency medical services remain unvaccinated — although those numbers do appear to be dropping in recent days.

“The mandate has led thousands of firefighters calling in sick, heated protests by city workers, unsuccessful lawsuits and garbage piling up in a slowdown by sanitation workers,” Durkin said.

However, de Blasio added that there hadn’t been any serious disruptions of city services despite those difficulties, saying most agencies are filling gaps with overtime and extra shifts.

City records show that more than 20,000 workers got at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine following de Blasio’s Oct. 20 announcement of the mandate, and more than 3,500 got vaccinated in the hours leading up to the mandate deadline to avoid being turned away from their jobs.

De Blasio said this segment of individuals rushing to get vaccinated increased the workforce vaccination rate from 71% to 86%. He also encouraged cities, states and corporations across America to impose similar vaccine regulations in an effort to help bring the pandemic to an end.

“To every mayor in America, every governor in America, to every CEO of a company in America — go to a full-vaccination mandate,” he said. “It will allow us to end the COVID-19 era once and for all.”


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