So maybe get vaccinated, and avoid all the hassle.
Unvaccinated city workers must get tested for COVID-19 twice a month and report their results to the human resources department, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Wednesday.
Turner signed an executive order implementing the policy,which takes effect Oct 8. It will allow some exemptions for religious and medical reasons.
The plans come as the city regularly has had more than 300 active cases of the virus among its workforce, Turner said. The latest numbers showed 342 workers with the virus, including 129 police, 161 municipal and 52 fire department employees.
Those cases hamper city operations, the mayor said.
“When you have 129 police officers with COVID, they’re not able to perform their jobs. Same thing with municipal workers, and, for example, permitting, that slows things down,” Turner said. “Simply don’t want them to get sick and don’t want anybody, anybody to die.”
The policy will apply to all police, fire and municipal staff who have not been fully vaccinated. It will not apply to elected officials or appointed members to the city’s boards and commissions.
The fire, police and municipal workers unions did not respond to requests for comment on Turner’s plan.
Turner said staff will face disciplinary action if they do not comply.
“It could even cost you your job,” the mayor said.
The mayor in recent weeks had teased a policy to encourage vaccinations, saying many city workers have not gotten their shots.
Mayor Turner implemented a mask mandate for city employees in early August. As far as I know, that executive order has not been involved in any of the lawsuits over mandates and Greg Abbott’s ban on them. This is a step up from that – it’s not a vaccine mandate per se, but it’s pretty close and I doubt Greg Abbott or Ken Paxton will split hairs. (They already have a reason to be whipped into a frenzy about this.) Whether or not cities can issue vaccine mandates is on the agenda for the next special session. What I’m saying is, I don’t know how long I expect this policy to last. And that’s before we hear of the inevitable resistance from the police and firefighter unions – police unions around the country have been staunch resisters of vaccine mandates, and we know how well the Mayor and the HPFFA get along. I support what the Mayor is doing here – if anything, I’d want to see the testing be more frequent – I just doubt he’ll be able to fully implement it. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong.