Monday, Sept. 13, marks the first day that citywide vaccine mandates will be enforced, but the number of city workers who received the COVID-19 shot continues to lag behind, officials said during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Sept. 9 briefing at City Hall.
“We have not yet applied a full requirement to all agencies,” de Blasio said at the press conference. “We have, as of the 13th coming up, vaccinate or test requirements for a number of agencies.”
Many of these requirements for city workers have been in place for a month, but no enforcement actions have been taken thus far to help businesses adjust to the new rules. Leading up to this date, vaccination numbers are still lagging for city workers. As of Sept. 7, only 65% of city workers are vaccinated, with Department of Sanitation workers at the lowest vaccination rate (44%).
NYPD members come in at a 53% vaccination, according to data from the mayor’s office. NY1 reported that the department will soon mandate that all of its members get the COVID-19 vaccine, though de Blasio said Thursday that he wasn’t aware of that yet.
Mounting concerns, including protests, surround the vaccine mandate specifically for city workers who may lose their jobs if they refuse. The only alternative is to get tested weekly, and testing positive can interrupt work.
“If someone does not follow that mandate … eventually they’re not going to be paid,” de Blasio said, noting that this has been the city’s clear intention for quite some time.
For the first time, city inspectors will be going around to offices, restaurants and venues to make sure that the vaccine checking procedure is going smoothly. The mayor says it will be similar to having one’s ID checked before ordering alcohol at a restaurant, and so far, business owners are handling it well.
“Our goal here is to confirm compliance,” he said.
Melba Wilson, president of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, gave a speech at Thursday’s press conference urging people to get vaccinated.
“Let me just tell you, this is not a good thing, this is a great thing. It’s about keeping our city safe,” Wilson said.
So far, there have been about 10.9 million doses of the vaccine administered, with 66.6% of residents having at least one dose. Vaccination rates are lowest in Brooklyn and the Bronx, at 59%. Enforcement of the Key to NYC order, which applies to indoor dining, fitness and entertainment, is meant to increase these rates.
“This is a big day for all of us,” Wilson said of Monday’s changes.
There is one more mandate going into effect on Sept. 27 for city contracted childcare staff and employees.
Brooklyn City Councilman Steve Levin spoke at the press conference in support of the mandate, saying, “Until we’re able to have more children vaccinated, we need to make sure that we’re able to protect our children by making sure that those around them are vaccinated.”
The delta variant has proven to be very dangerous for children who are not vaccinated, as none of the vaccines are approved for children under 12.
Still, the mayor denied the possibility of a vaccine mandate for students over the age of 12. “We feel very good about the distancing. We’re absolutely able to follow the CDC guidance,” de Blasio said.