NEW YORK — New York City is bracing for a worker shortage as its COVID-19 vaccine mandate looms and tens of thousands of municipal employees remain unvaccinated.
Police officers, firefighters, garbage collectors and most other city workers face a 5 p.m. Friday deadline to show proof they've gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Workers who don't comply will be put on unpaid leave starting Monday.
On Wednesday, a New York judge refused to pause the mandate, denying a police union's request for a temporary restraining order.
Judge Lizette Colon ruled that the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate could take effect as scheduled. She also ordered city officials to appear in court on Nov. 12 to defend the requirement against a union lawsuit seeking to have it declared illegal.
Also on Wednesday, a federal appeals panel presiding in another mandate-related case seemed to support arguments that a New York state vaccine mandate for health care workers does not violate their Constitutional rights even though the mandate doesn't provide religious exemptions.
Following the judge's ruling, sanitation workers appear to have begun skipping garbage pick-ups in protest, and the union went to an appeals court seeking a halt to the requirement.
Mayor Bill de Blasio held firm on the mandate as firefighters rallied Thursday outside his official residence.
"My job is to keep people safe — my employees and 8.8 million people," de Blasio said at a virtual news briefing. "And until we defeat COVID, people are not safe. If we don't stop COVID, New Yorkers will die."