New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that 91% of city workers are now vaccinated against the coronavirus but thousands more still face unpaid leave, creating worker shortages throughout the city.
The mayor sought to assure residents there will be no interruptions in services Monday as the first day of forced unpaid leave for workers who have not received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine takes effect.
While the count of total workers vaccinated topped more than 90%, the figures are still lowest in the police and fire departments, the city said. Officials said 84% of the police force and 80% of fire department personnel were vaccianted.
The mayor’s office said about 9,000 municipal workers are now on leave without pay after missing the deadline. Some 6,500 officers have filed for exemptions, allowing them, for now, to stay on the job as long as they submit to weekly testing.
New York Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said that “thousands” of fire personnel have called off sick in an apparent protest of coronavirus protocols.
“People get really troubled really quick when people don’t show up to do their job if they’re not really sick, and we have every reason to believe there’s a lot of people out there claiming to be sick when they’re not. It’s not acceptable,” de Blasio said, according to WNBC-TV.
Union leaders refuted allegations of an organized sickout among their ranks.
“We would never advocate for a firehouse to be closed or for members not to work overtime,” Andrew Ansbro, the president of the local firefighters association, said according to WNBC-TV. “We need everyone we can to keep this city running and keep it safe. We’re trying to avoid what is going to be an inevitable disaster.”
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