As the deadline for city employees to get vaccinated bears down, Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the city's plan for a possible shortage in first responders.
New York City expanded its COVID-19 vaccine mandate beyond Department of Education employees to include all public workers. The mandate does not include an option for weekly testing, as has been the case in recent months. Workers who do not get vaccinated will be placed on unpaid leave.
The mayor's office has made the case that all those who serve the public must protect it, especially NYPD, FDNY and corrections officers.
But unlike in city schools, there are no substitutes for cops and firefighters.
"It is about overtime, it is about shifting assignments to a particular need," de Blasio said Wednesday. "Our agencies went through so much last year where they had huge numbers of members out because of COVID and adjusted and they did it very well. These are organizations used to crisis and disaster and they know how to keep things going."
While there has been a marked uptick in vaccination among public workers since the mandate was announced, staff shortages in some critical departments seem inevitable.
The city's largest police union has filed a lawsuit to temporarily block the mandate until the cops can argue their case in court, but time is running out for a judge to issue an injunction. As of Monday, about 70 percent of NYPD employees had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. FDNY's vaccination lagged behind more significantly at around 60 percent.
De Blasio added that he expects a surge in vaccinations Thursday and Friday, as the possibility of unpaid leave sets in for city workers.
Gov. Kathy Hochul added in her own news conference Wednesday that the state will assist NYC in the event of a first responder shortage.