On Monday, all people who work for any part of the NYC municipal government need to be vaccines or they will be placed on unpaid leave going forward, potentially affecting quality and availability of public services.
During a Monday press conference, Mayor de Blasio said that there are currently 9,000 city employees on unpaid leave as of Monday, out of a workforce of 378,000.
Massive protests have erupted in New York against the mayor's unilateral vaccine mandates, with first responders, other employees, their supporters and even some politicians attending.
The New York Fire Department gave a press conference in the wake of the new regulations, stating that dozens of fire departments will be forced to shut down due to staffing shortages.
"Members of the New York City Fire Department are being put on leave without pay. We're not clear what the numbers are; we're not clear how many fire departments are going to be closed to day, but we're expecting dozens," an FDNY spokesperson said.
"We're here today because of a mandate that was put on our members, but also on all New York City employees," the spokesperson said. "They were given nine days to make a life-changing decision on whether to take a vaccine, and we're gonna look at the aftermath of this right now."
The Fire Department alone has 2,000 members who are still unvaccinated, representing almost a quarter of their total roster of 11,000 firefighters. According to The New York Times, hundreds of these firefighters are currently incapacitated for work due to side effects of the vaccine. New York City typically sees thousands of 911 calls per day.
At this time, there are approximately 23,000 NYC employees in total, representing employees of various stripes who are still not vaccinated. Some 6,500 of these have applied for exemptions to the rule, although the majority of these applications are expected to be rejected. However, a judge did recently rule that religious exemptions of some sort must be allowed for this mandate.
The NYC Mayors office, however, is confident that things will continue to "run smoothly." Danielle Filson, Mayor Bill de Blasio's press secretary, stated that "Over 91 percent of New York City workers have stepped up for their communities and gotten the shot. With such strong numbers and dedicated public servants who never fail to go above and beyond, we expect services to run smoothly."
So far, the way city agencies are anticipating dealing with the problem is by upping the hours of those who are vaccinated and remain on the job. The Department of Sanitation has already extended the length of shifts of its workers to 12 hours, and will have many of its workers required to work Sundays as well.