Los Angeles Will Require City Employees to Get Vaxxed or Submit to Testing

In the wake of a similar announcement at the state level, top city officials say they’re working on a plan
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Amid an “alarming spike in [COVID-19] cases among our city workforce,” Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez announced on Tuesday that city employees will soon be required to either show proof of vaccination against the virus or submit to regular testing.

Details of the logistics are scarce, but the tentative plan seems to mirror similar initiatives for city employees in New York and state employees in California. A mayoral order is expected to be issued Wednesday.

Several city council members had already come out in support of a mandatory vaccination and testing program for city workers, especially those who have regular close contact with people in the community.

Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas released a statement on Monday evening saying he’d planned to introduce a motion this week directing staff to develop a policy to require all city employees be fully vaccinated and to report their vaccination status to the city.

“Plain and simple—vaccinations are the only way out of this pandemic,” the statement reads. “They are the most effective way to prevent transmission and limit COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. If we want our economy to fully recover, if we want our children to be able to go to school without masks on, and if we want the most vulnerable members of our community to not end up in the hospital, we must all do our part and this motion is a step in the right direction. It’s time to get it done.”

In particular, vaccination rates have lagged among Los Angeles police and fire department personnel. As of June 22, just over half of each group reported that they’re at least partially vaccinated; on Tuesday, LAPD Chief Michel Moore reported that 33 LAPD employees had tested positive for COVID in the past week, and that one of them was hospitalized and in “very critical condition.”


JULY 26, 2021 — As COVID-19’s unfortunate comeback tour rolls on, state officials announced Monday that California’s 246,000 state employees will either have to show proof of vaccination or submit to a regular COVID-19 testing starting in August. Here in Los Angeles, several city council members have said they’re in favor of requiring jabs for city workers.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, councilmen Kevin de León, Gil Cedillo, and Mark Ridley-Thomas are among the local officials who’ve said they want decisive action to improve the vaccination rate among city employees. As of June 22, the vax rate among both Los Angeles Police Department officers and city firefighters was lagging well behind the rest of the population, with just over half of each group reporting that they’re at least partially vaccinated.

“The Delta variant has clearly proven that the unvaccinated community are deeply vulnerable, and they’ve put their lives in jeopardy … not just their lives, but the lives of their co-workers, family and neighbors,” said de León, who also told told the Times he believes shots should be mandated by a certain date. Likewise, Cedillo said that mandating vaccination for city workers seemed to him like “something we should be doing.”

Ridley-Thomas released a statement on Monday evening saying that at Wednesday’s council meeting he’ll introduce a motion directing staff to develop a policy to require all city employees be fully vaccinated and to report their vaccination status to the city.

“Plain and simple—vaccinations are the only way out of this pandemic,” the statement reads. “They are the most effective way to prevent transmission and limit COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. If we want our economy to fully recover, if we want our children to be able to go to school without masks on, and if we want the most vulnerable members of our community to not end up in the hospital, we must all do our part and this motion is a step in the right direction. It’s time to get it done.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Eric Garcetti says the mayor “has been working urgently with city stakeholders toward policy changes to increase the employee vaccination rate and make the workplace safer for everyone.”

The City of Pasadena, which has its own health department, announced last week that it will require city employees to get vaccinated when at least one of the shots has gotten full Food and Drug Administration approval; unfortunately, that could take several more months. The FDA has set a goal date of January 22 for a decision on the Pfizer vaccine.

Pasadena City Manager Steve Mermell said of the measure, “The public has to come into contact with city employees. We want the city employees to be healthy, we want the public not to get ill.”

Los Angeles is in the throes of a troubling spike in COVID-19 cases, but the politicization of public health and vaccine misinformation have led to widespread hesitation and outright refusal among a portion of the population. Last week, Los Angeles averaged around 2,300 new cases a day. The vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated.


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