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New York fires nearly 1,500 officials for not getting vaccinated

Officials protest against the mandate that requires vaccination. / AFP

The City Council, whose mandate requires at least two doses, affirms that with a workforce of 370,000 people, those who leave are less than 1%

Two years after the pandemic began, today it is known that the covid vaccine does not provide immunity, nor does it protect society from transmission, only from the worst cases that overwhelm hospitals. Still, it remains the gold standard that on Monday allowed the New York City Council to fire 1,430 employees for failing to comply with the mandatory vaccination mandate for all city officials.

Many believed that the new mayor, Eric Adams, was going to be more permissive than his predecessor, Bill De Blassio, who issued this mandate and other especially harsh ones, such as the obligation to show the covid passport in restaurants, museums, cinemas, gyms and practically all public establishments, which make the city an expensive and hostile place for those who resist the experimental vaccine approved by emergency route.

Adams, a former police officer who was expected to be sensitive to that guild, which has resisted so much, has had no contemplations. At the end of January, the Consistory sent a dismissal notice to more than 4,000 municipal officials who resisted, including 700 teachers. As soon as a judge ruled in his favor on Thursday night, after evaluating the lawsuit brought by the powerful teachers’ union, the dreaded dismissal slips came out of the office. It was not enough to have a dose of the vaccine, two were needed. This means that, in addition to the 1,428 dismissed without a vaccine, there are two cases of officials who only had one dose.

“Our goal has always been to vaccinate, not to lay off,” the mayor said in a statement Monday. “Most of the officials have lived up to this goal that we have transferred to them.” The City Council argues that, with a workforce of 370,000 civil servants, those laid off represent less than 1%. Moreover, three-quarters of those dismissed had already been on leave for months, waiting for the judicial appeals that had extended their challenge to be resolved. That means that New York City had already learned to operate without those police officers, teachers, street cleaners, clerks and so many other positions that were considered essential for a metropolis of 8.5 million people.

Tired of sacrifices

New York was the epicenter of the pandemic two years ago, with a cumulative death toll of 66,000, and the port of entry for the virus brought by European travelers, analyzes of strains shared by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo showed. With two large international airports that distribute air traffic throughout the country, and much of the continent, no one is surprised that by the time the pandemic became apparent it was already too late. The void left by the 55 million tourists, which the city received annually, and the nearly two million residents who left have created a huge hole in business and public coffers. ‘For Rent’ signs on closed businesses are repeated throughout Manhattan, even as residential rents continue to break new records.

The new mayor does not want to risk another wave collapsing the hospitals and leaving the ship he has just commanded adrift, but he also knows that society is tired of the sacrifices of covid. In the coming months he will have to tread very thinly so as not to lose control of a ship that, in Canada, has proven very fragile in the face of organized pressure from the extreme right, which fishes in this troubled river.

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