Richmond County Supreme Court Judge Lizette Colon has denied a request from the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York to temporarily halt Mayor Bill de Blasio’s order requiring all municipal employees, including law enforcement officials, to receive at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine or face unpaid leave, reports the Washington Post. Colon ruled that De Blasio’s mandate can proceed, reportedly citing a previous state appellate ruling that upheld a vaccine mandate for measles.
Patrick J. Lynch, president of the police union that argues De Blasio’s mandate doesn’t provide sufficient religious exemptions, said in a statement that the mandate “will inevitably result” in fewer police officers available to protect the city’s streets next month. Union members have also expressed frustration with the city’s decision to stop giving municipal employees the option to provide negative test results, instead of getting vaccinated. The mandate applies to around 160,500 individuals, although 71 percent of them had already received at least one shot of a vaccine, the city said last week. City officials must have at least one dose by 5 p.m. Friday. Around 500 police officers have died of COVID-19 during the pandemic. It was the leading cause of death for officers in 2020 and 2021, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. Police Commissioner Dermot Shea says around 75 percent of the NYPD are vaccinated.