PHOENIX - Officials with the City of Phoenix announced on Dec. 7 that the city is pausing the implementation of a vaccine mandate for city workers.
In November, the city announced the mandate, citing President Joe Biden's executive order, but in a tweet, officials say due to a federal court ruling on Dec. 7 that temporarily blocked a requirement for all federal contract workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, they are also pausing the mandate.
"With today's ruling, the city is halting implementation," said Phoenix City Manager Jeff Barton. "We value our employees, each and every one of them. I value their right to personal choice, religious freedom and other convictions. But I also have an obligation to ensure that the city operates within state and federal laws."
Earlier, the city stated more than 13,000 employees must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 18 or risk losing their jobs to comply with the rules created by the Biden administration.
There are some medical and religious exemptions.
Mayor Kate Gallego had voiced her support for the mandate, saying "The federal program is going to save lives."
However, there are concerns from some city council members that the mandate could have a negative impact on city services because of a loss of employees.
Phoenix's police and fire unions have both come out against the mandate, saying many police officers and firefighters will quit.
"We've had a hiring and retention issue long before this mandate came about," said Britt London, President of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association. "We had over 1,000 people respond, and over 600 said they would sever employment if there were a mandate."
This all comes just a day after New York City took a more aggressive approach. Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced a vaccine mandate for private businesses.
Protesters gather prior to announcement
On Dec. 7, hundreds of city workers gathered to protest the mandate. After the pause was announced, some family members of city workers say they remain unsatisfied.
"A pause is not good enough. The mandate needs to go away," said Valeria Grosso-Turley, whose husband is a Phoenix Police officer.,
"We should be able to choose what we want to do with our medical decisions," said city worker Juliet Conner.
Arizona COVID-19 resources, FAQ: azdhs.gov/coronavirus
In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Monitor your health daily
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- Omicron-specific vaccine testing underway: Moderna chairman responds to first omicron variant detected in US
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