President Joe Biden claimed that the pandemic is over in his interview with "60 Minutes," which aired on Sunday. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told CNN in January that vaccines are ineffective at preventing transmission of the COVID-19 virus. Earlier this year, the CDC began acknowledging the benefits and protections provided by the natural immunity resultant of an infection by the virus. Nevertheless, workers across America continue to lose their jobs for refusing COVID-19 vaccines.
The New York City Department of Education has terminated an additional 850 teachers for resisting the vaccine mandate. According to the New York Post, this recent spate of firings brings the total number of school employees ousted for their failure to comply to 1,950.
Those fired have also lost their health insurance benefits.
While 850 remained resolute in their refusal to comply with the mandate, 1,300 employees who had been placed on unpaid leave with benefits agreed to show proof of vaccination by September 5.
450 got vaccinated before the deadline and are reportedly "returning to their prior schools or work locations." Those who refused to show up with papers were "deemed to have voluntarily resigned."
Vaccinations for jobs
The mandate that has now put thousands of New Yorkers out of work first went into effect on October 4, 2021. Then-mayor Bill de Blasio indicated that objectors, estimated to be about 5% of 148,000 public school staffers, would be placed on unpaid leave. Teachers, principals, school safety agents and food service workers were among those targeted by the requirement.
De Blasio said, "Every adult in our schools is now vaccinated, and that's going to be the rule going forward."
Mayor Eric Adams maintained the mandate, recently noting that "city workers served on the front lines during the pandemic, and by getting vaccinated, they are, once again, showing how they are willing to do the right thing to protect themselves and all New Yorkers."
Those who did not do what was perceived by Adams to be "the right thing" did not have their livelihoods protected, despite having "served on the front lines."
In addition to firefighters, police officers, and teachers losing their jobs on account of personal medical decisions, tens of thousands of health care workers were similarly terminated after Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul expanded her predecessor's mandate to include staff in various additional hospital settings.
Timing and legality
Whereas the firing of thousands of unvaccinated NYPD police officers may leave an overburdened police force with even fewer hands to deal with a 36% surge in crime, the loss of thousands of educators will similarly have a negative impact on the city. After all, there is a looming teacher shortage.
The New York State United Teachers union indicated that approximately 180,000 teachers need to be hired in the state over the next decade, especially after 280,000 teachers across the U.S. left the workforce during the pandemic.
Jolene DiBrango, the union's executive vice president, said "The teacher shortage is definitely not looming anymore. It is here. It is in a full blown crisis mode."
Earlier this month, the New York City Council's Common-Sense Caucus pressured the mayor and Dr. Ashwin Vasan, the city's health commissioner, to ease restrictions and mandates.
Republican councilman Joe Borelli of South Shore, a member of the group, noted that "these mandates ... no longer have any basis in public health rationale."
Months after the city lifted its vaccine mandate for indoor venues, teachers must still be vaccinated along with children seeking to participate in extracurricular activities. Borelli called these vestigial mandates "simply absurd."
While the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration's federal vaccine mandate, Justice Sonia Sotomayor refused to block NYC's mandate for teachers in October 2021. Late last month, Sotomayor again declined to block the mandate.
Notwithstanding federal permissiveness, last week, a Manhattan judge ruled that a Brooklyn police officer, Officer Alexander Deletto, could not be fired for refusing vaccination. Deletto had sought a religious exemption, which the city had initially denied.
Deletto's lawyer, James Mermigis, told the Post "These are people that were heroes during COVID that put their own safety at risk to help the city of New York and this is how the mayor treats them? ... It's an absolute disgrace."