Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says that disciplinary action is still planned for city workers that have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but there are still efforts ongoing to try to convince her administration to alter their mitigation strategies.
Lightfoot reiterated her stance on Monday, saying that Chicago police officers and other city workers that have not yet reported their vaccine status will face consequences.
“We will enforce the rules, and my expectation is that the vast majority of police officers who are already vaccinated will come into compliance,” she said.
The city reports that 89% of its workforce is now vaccinated against COVID. According to the latest figures from the mayor’s office, 2,367 Chicago police employees and 312 Chicago fire employees have not yet reported their vaccination status, leaving them at risk of being placed on no-pay status.
Thus far, the city says that 30 Chicago police employees and 19 Chicago fire employees are on that no-pay status.
In response to the mayor’s comments, 11 members of the Chicago City Council have asked for an emergency meeting, aiming to encourage Lightfoot to consider allowing unvaccinated employees to submit to twice-weekly testing instead.
“A year and a half ago, natural immunity was not necessarily well-known,” Ald. Ray Lopez said. “What we’ve seen is that the CDC acknowledges that natural immunity exists, and can protect you.”
Lightfoot has said she does not support such a plan.
“This is a stunt, and it has happened before,” she said. “It’s unfortunate it’s being done with something as serious as our COVID mitigation efforts.”
Questions about religious and medical exemptions are also still being discussed as well. Those workers who applied for the exemptions can continue to test twice per week, but Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara says that police officers are largely not being allowed to obtain those exemptions, arguing that 70% of city workers who sought the exceptions were successful, while just 10% of police officers have had their requests accepted.
“For anybody to say this is anything other than punitive…you’re lying to yourself,” he said.
Catanzara has been front-and-center during the legal challenges to the city’s vaccine mandate, but Lightfoot says that she is confident that he policy is the best one for the city moving forward.
“The rules are the rules,” she said.
Workers who have not yet submitted their vaccine status will be called in one-by-one in coming days. If they do non comply, or haven’t obtained an exemption to the policy, they will be placed on no-pay status, according to city officials.