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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, Nov. 19, 2021
SAN DIEGO – As part of his continued efforts to beat back the COVID-19 pandemic and keep residents safe, Mayor Todd Gloria announced today that the City is now moving forward with its requirement for all City employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 1, 2021 as a condition of continued employment. The City has completed its obligations under the state’s labor laws to implement the City’s Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy with five of its six recognized employee organizations. The City will provide medical and religious exemptions on a case-by-case basis, as required by law. Any City employee who refuses to get vaccinated and is not provided with an exemption will ultimately face termination of employment.
“The way out of this pandemic is through vaccines – and the City of San Diego will lead by example,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “With City employees regularly interacting with members of the public, this vaccination mandate takes on even more necessity – not only to protect the public, but also to protect our city workers.”
The COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all City employees was announced on August 26, 2021. Since then, the City has been in ongoing negotiations with its six recognized employee organizations. The City is currently at impasse with the San Diego Police Officers Association (SDPOA) over implementing the vaccine mandate for SDPOA’s represented employees. Mayor Gloria will ask the City Council to impose the vaccine mandate on SDPOA represented employees and codify this mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy in a City ordinance during an open session meeting of the City Council on November 29, 2021.
“I support Mayor Todd Gloria’s vaccine mandate for City employees,” said Council President Jennifer Campbell, representative for District 2. “Billions of people around the world have been safely vaccinated and protected themselves, their families and their communities from COVID-19, which is still taking over a thousand American lives every day. As public servants, it is our duty to protect the City of San Diego and its residents from this deadly and contagious disease.”
The City of San Diego will continue to allow City employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine on City time. To help employees comply with the mandate and receive both their first and second doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, the City has provided opportunities for on-site, walk-up vaccination at various City facilities and locations across the City.
“The City of San Diego has lost many members of our valued workforce to COVID-19 who were unvaccinated. It is imperative that we keep our dedicated City employees healthy and able to perform their duties to serve the residents of San Diego,” said Councilmember Marni von Wilpert, co-chair of the City Council’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Committee. “Last month, I tested positive for COVID-19 and although I was very symptomatic, I am extremely lucky that because I was vaccinated, I am still alive today. Requiring vaccinations for City employees is a necessary step to save lives now and to keep government functioning to ensure our continued recovery from this devastating pandemic.”
On November 1, 2021, City employees were allowed to submit requests for reasonable accommodation and medical or religious exemption from the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. The City will review requests for accommodation on a case-by-case basis in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, and following guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
“We are mandating that our employees adhere to the same standards that this Mayor, that this City Council have adhered to,” said Councilmember Joe LaCava, representative for District 1. “Unvaccinated, unprotected employees simply cannot serve the public, which includes individuals who are immunocompromised, elderly and vulnerable. To efficiently provide necessary services and protections, the City must employ and enforce a vaccine mandate.”
Across all departments, nearly 1,300 City employees have been infected with COVID-19. The City has experienced staffing challenges across City operations because of staff being sick or having to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure. For example, COVID-19 infections have resulted in delays in trash collection in 45 trash routes, 1,030 recycling routes, and 45 greenery routes since July 2020. These delayed routes impacted more than 1.3 million City residents, some on multiple occasions – meaning, nearly every city resident has experienced a delay in trash collection.
As a result of rising positives, the San Diego Police Department has had to suspend its police academy operations on two occasions. The San Diego Fire Department has also had to temporarily close two fire academies and make changes in operational protocols when more than 30 personnel were in isolation at one time due to positive COVID-19 tests.