COVID-19 vaccine mandate: 18 firefighters close, garbage piles up in New York City

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) – The ongoing battle for New York City’s expanded vaccine mandate continues Tuesday, a day after enforcement began for all municipal employees – including the NYPD, FDNY and the Department of Sanitation.

Officials say 92% of city employees have been vaccinated, and several departments are improving their numbers on Monday.

The fire department now reports that 81% of its employees have been vaccinated, with 77% of firefighters – an increase of 2% from Monday.

The NYPD has vaccinated 85% of its force, but thousands are still away from work because of their vaccination status.

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Engine 294 in Richmond Hill was one of 18 fire companies out of service Monday.

While fire chiefs are struggling to find a way to remedy the shortage, union officials are pushing Mayor Bill de Blasio for time to comply with the vaccine mandate.

In addition to Queens, there is a shortage of staff throughout New York.

“They knew this was going to happen,” said Andrew Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. “I pray it does not cost a citizen or a firefighter his life.”

With so many firefighters remaining unvaccinated or sick, Ansbro says motor and ladder companies are driving short – and that’s a danger to the city. The union is pushing for more time for members to be vaccinated.

However, de Blasio sticks to the mandate, saying that 2,000 more city employees have been vaccinated within the last 24 hours. But many are still looking for housing.

“I think the big story is clear, 92% of the workforce is now vaccinated,” he said. “People, when they get to the time of the decision, overwhelmingly choose to be vaccinated. So by reviewing these accommodation requests, you know that people have submitted the request, it needs to be reviewed, and there is an opportunity for more information. to offer, there is a complaint process, it will take place over days, even several weeks.But what we do know is that for those who get that housing, okay.For those who do not, it is a decision point . “

In terms of sick leave, 2,300 firefighters are out, more than half of whom happen to be unvaccinated. Union leaders say these figures should not be misinterpreted.

“We take great exception to the allegations that New York City firefighters, allegedly in the thousands, falsify medical leave because of the mandate,” said International Association of Firefighters President Edward Kelly.

FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro called the alleged sick leave unacceptable.

“Understaffing could cease immediately if members stopped getting sick when they were not sick,” he said. “We hope it ends very soon and we can return to manning our units as they should be.”

De Blasio was also critical of anyone who might report sick because of the mandate.

“The people who are sick out there and really not sick, the people who are falsifying it, are doing a huge disservice to the people of this city and their other members of the service,” he said. “And we want to make sure there are consequences for that. It’s something we keep a close eye on to see if it’s coordinated. If the union coordinates in any way, it’s a violation of the Taylor Act. constantly watching to see if there is anything, and in that case we will go to court immediately. “

Union leaders also demand a test opportunity for all members of the department.

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About 6% of the total workforce, about 9,000 municipal employees, are now on unpaid leave, said press secretary Daniele Filson, after failing to be vaccinated within the deadline.

Over on Staten Island, bar owner Danny Presti, who defied COVID restrictions during the closure, was the first of several arrested Monday night when he blocked a ambulance from moving.

“In the last two weeks, I have never been more proud to see the garbage sitting in front of my house,” he said. “And I would have left it there forever if that was what it takes.”

Anti-vaccine protesters clashed with police in support of the 17% of sanitation workers who have chosen not to be vaccinated.

Garbage piles up stains around New York City, and the department head admits there has been an impact on operations.

While the number of vaccinated firefighters and other municipal employees has increased, thousands remain defiant.

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