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New York City is expanding a vaccine mandate to cover all city workers, including police officers and firefighters, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) has announced.
De Blasio said Wednesday the city will require all city workers to receive at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose by the end of this month, The New York Times reports. Those who aren't vaccinated by Nov. 1 will be required to go on unpaid leave. City employees were previously required to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing, and a vaccine requirement was also put in place in the city for Department of Education workers.
During an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe, de Blasio said that about 46,000 city workers still aren't vaccinated but that they "have to be part of the solution" in bringing an end to "the COVID era."
"It's time for these mandates," de Blasio said, urging other mayors around the country to take similar steps. "Finish this war, or we're going to have COVID with us way too long."
De Blasio told Morning Joe there will be religious and medical exemptions but that city workers have had "months and months" to get vaccinated voluntarily. "If you choose not to" get a COVID-19 vaccine, the mayor said, "you have the right to go on unpaid leave ... but the bottom line is we're not going to pay people unless they're vaccinated."
Following this announcement, the Police Benevolent Association, a police union, promised to challenge the mandate, with its president Patrick Lynch saying, "Now that the city has moved to unilaterally impose a mandate, we will proceed with legal action to protect our members' rights." According to The Wall Street Journal, about 70 percent of police officers in New York City have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.