Judge says NYC public employee vaccine mandate can take effect

Judge says NYC public employee vaccine mandate can take effect
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New York Judge Lizette Colon ruled Wednesday that New York City's COVID-19 vaccine requirement for municipal workers can be implemented as planned, rejecting a request by the police union to block the mandate, The Associated Press reported.

Most New York City municipal workers are required to have one dose of the vaccine by Friday, with some corrections officers having a Dec. 1 deadline. The city workers who present proof of vaccination will be rewarded with a $500 bonus in their paycheck, whereas those who do not will be placed on unpaid leave until they do so. 

Previously, New York City employees could opt to take weekly COVID-19 tests instead of being vaccinated, but this exemption no longer will apply. 

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In addition, Colon ruled that New York's city officials must appear in court Nov. 12 to defend the requirement against a union lawsuit that has sought to have mandates declared illegal, according to the AP. 

Police union president Pat Lynch said in a statement reported by the AP that the ruling "sets the city up for a real crisis" and will "inevitably result in fewer cops available to protect our city." 

Seventy-three percent of the New York City police department has received at least one vaccine dose, according to Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. 

The police department did not provide specific responses when asked how it will manage if one-quarter of its workforce is put on unpaid leave, according to AP. 

In response to a series of in-depth questions, NYPD spokesman Al Baker provided a one-sentence statement in writing: “We will be prepared for any changes in personnel due to the mandate.”

A federal appeals court heard a separate case Wednesday on a similar mandate for health care workers, according to the AP. The judges seemed to support the arguments that a New York state vaccine mandate for health care workers was not a violation of constitutional rights, even though the mandate does not include religious exemptions, reports the AP. 

“There is no greater privilege than serving the people of New York City, and that privilege comes with a responsibility to keep yourself and your community safe,” New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioThese are the states where the omicron variant has been identified Overnight Health Care — Presented by March of Dimes — Biden's winter COVID-19 strategy Five omicron cases detected in New York MORE (D) said.