NYC vaccine mandate: Thousands of police officers, firefighters, city workers to go on unpaid leave

Emergency services now understaffed as a result of COVID vaccine mandates

D.C. firefighters Will Jones and Katie Fuertes on firefighters facing losing their jobs by refusing COVID vaccinations

Thousands of New York City police officers, firefighters and other municipal workers have been placed on unpaid leave Monday for failing to comply with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s coronavirus vaccine mandate. 

As of last night, 22,800 municipal workers remained unvaccinated, according to data released by the New York City Mayor’s Office.

“Nine thousand people [were] placed on leave without pay today,” Mitch Schwartz, a spokesperson for the mayor, told Fox News on Monday morning.  “The rest are in various stages of having their accommodation requests reviewed. They can be at work.”

Firefighters rally Thursday outside Mayor Bill De Blasio’s residence of Gracie Mansion to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers. The city is bracing for a worker shortage as tens of thousands of municipal employees remain unvaccinated. 
(AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)

NYC FIREFIGHTERS UNION WARNS LIVES WILL BE LOST DUE TO VACCINE MANDATE 

Andy Ansbro, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association union, said earlier Monday that it is “not entirely clear how many fire companies will be closed today” as a result of the mandate going into effect, but that he was “expecting dozens.”

“We’re here today because of a mandate that was put on the, you know, our members, but also on all New York City employees given nine days to make a life changing decision on their career or whether or not they can take a vaccine,” he added. “And we’re going to live with the aftermath of this right now.” 

De Blasio tweeted Saturday night that 91% of city workers had received the vaccine, which represented a jump from about 83% as of Friday night. 

“More than half of the workers who haven’t been vaccinated yet have submitted exemption requests and those requests are being processed,” he added in a tweet Sunday night.

But fire union officials were calling on the mayor to give their rank and file more time to decide on whether or not to receive the vaccine. 

“We’re forcing these decisions on our members, and they’re acting accordingly, some members have gotten the vaccination,” James McCarthy, the president of the FDNY- Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said Monday. “We’ve had some members retire after serving the general public in New York City public and the citizens for over 25 years.” 

FDNY RESCUE PARAMEDIC RIPS DE BLASIO OVER COVID-19 VACCINE MANDATE 

“So it’s very impactful and we needed more time. That’s all,” he added. “We were trying to negotiate more time to make these decisions, just like the de Blasio administration, gave every other organization every other year in this city.” 

Under a city mandate, those who haven’t received at least one dose of the vaccine would be put on unpaid leave starting Monday, raising the possibility of shortages of police, fire and EMS workers. New York has more than 300,000 employees. 

Two New York City Police officers patrol a busy intersection on Main Street in Flushing on March 30 in the Queens borough of New York City. 
(AP/Kathy Willens)

The police department, which employs about 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilian employees, reported an 84% vaccination rate as of Sunday evening, while the fire department said that 80% of its employees were vaccinated — 75% of firefighters, 87% of EMTS and 90% of civilian employees. 

City officials have considered various measures to deal with an expected staffing shortfall set to happen Monday. 

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The fire department has said it was prepared to close up to 20% of its fire companies and have 20% fewer ambulances in service while also changing schedules, canceling vacations and turning to outside EMS providers to make up for expected staffing shortages. 

De Blasio said the sanitation department will move to 12-hour shifts, as opposed to the usual 8-hour shifts, and begin working Sundays to ensure trash doesn’t pile up. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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