San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria announced 790 unvaccinated city employees will receive notices this week that their requests for reasonable accommodations to the mandate have been approved.
The decision was made because 90% of the city workforce is now vaccinated, according to a news release sent to NBC 7 Monday afternoon.
“Before we instituted the vaccine mandate, just 69% of City employees were vaccinated, and I’m incredibly proud the vaccination rate is now over 90%," Mayor Todd Gloria said in the release. "It’s unquestionably to the public’s benefit for City employees to stay healthy and on the job, safely serving residents, and I am committed to maintaining policies that protect San Diegans. I’m grateful to our employees for joining me in this effort,” said Mayor Gloria in the news release.
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As of March 16, 9,757 city employees were fully vaccinated but 1,075 still were not fully vaccinated, according figures released by the city.
Of the unvaccinated group, 1,026 had requested exemption requests based on medical or religious grounds.
A city spokesperson says the majority of those accommodations were granted to those requesting religious exemptions.
According to the mayor’s office, city departments will accommodate these employees by providing free weekly COVID-19 testing at the workplace to ensure protection of employees and members of the public. Employees who refuse to comply with the weekly testing regimen will be subject to terminations.
Last year, the city council mandated that all employees become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec.1 as a condition of employment. Employees who refused to get vaccinated were provided the option to apply for a medical or religious exemption. The requests were reviewed on a case-by-case basis, as required by law.
According to city data, lost work time due to sick days from COVID-19 totaled more than $3.64 million from October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021. When the council passed the mandate, nearly 1,300 city employees had been infected with COVID-19 across all departments.
As an example he gave in November, Gloria said COVID-19 infections resulted in delays in trash collection on 45 trash routes, 1,030 recycling routes and 45 greenery routes since July 2020. Those delayed routes impacted more than 1.3 million city residents, some on multiple occasions.
Additionally, as a result of rising positive tests, the San Diego Police Department had to suspend its police academy operations on two occasions.
The San Diego Fire Department has also had to temporarily close two fire academies and make changes in operational protocols when more than 30 personnel were in isolation at one time due to positive COVID-19 tests.
The city says approximately 200 other requests are still under review.