NEW YORK — With the deadline looming for NYPD officers, firefighters and emergency medical workers to get vaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio remained confident Thursday in his mandate and in public safety agencies ability to run, even with the prospect of thousands of people unable to work.
By Friday at 5, p.m., all municipal workers, need to show proof of vaccination or be placed on unpaid leave starting Monday. As of Thursday morning, vaccination rates were at: almost 75 percent for the NYPD, 74 percent for EMS within the FDNY, 64 percent for fire in the FDNY and 67 percent for the sanitation department.
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea warned of the “very real possibility” of an officer shortage and the FDNY warned an estimated 20 percent of fire units could close. New Yorkers could also see around 20 percent fewer ambulances on the road.
“There’s no discussion of changing the deadline,” de Blasio said. “The bottom line is, can we do the things we need to do, first of all, to keep this city safe for the long run? Well, that means getting people vaccinated. Yes, we can do that. Yes, we have a plan to do that. And then can we keep all the other services moving in a way that protects New Yorkers? Yes. I’ve asked this question, exhaustively, of the commissioners, people have tremendous respect for. The answer is yes, yes, yes. There’s confidence. We can make it work and we’re moving forward.”
The plan is to utilize overtime and move staff around to make sure the NYPD and FDNY function as needed. De Blasio said there was proof this could be done; he noted that during the pandemic, huge swathes of officers were sick with COVID and Shea made things work.
“He has a lot of tools to make sure that what needs to be covered will be covered,” de Blasio said. “Right now, NYPD, for example, is at almost 75 percent vaccination level. We have all of the typical tools of how you use staff, move them around, how you use overtime.”
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro also has contingencies in place, de Blasio said.
“They’ve already talked about the fact that they have a variety of tools available, mandatory overtime, scheduling changes,” de Blasio said. “There’s other options they can turn to, to address the situation. So, I am certain, and I’m listening to Commissioner Nigro, who’s been – literally given his entire life to the people of New York City, that we will be ready.”