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COVID-19

Mayhem About to Reign Down on NYC as 5p.m. Friday Vax Deadline Approaches

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Mayhem is about to descend upon New York City as the COVID-19 vaccine mandate goes into play and “thousands of municipal workers remain unwilling to get the shots” reports the Associated Press. “Police officers, firefighters, garbage collectors, and most other city workers face a 5 p.m. Friday deadline to show proof they’ve gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Starting Monday, those who do not comply with the mandate will be placed on unpaid leave beginning Monday. Despite tens of thousands rallying and protesting in the big apple this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio is not backing down.

“Sanitation workers appeared to be skipping garbage pick-ups in protest and the city’s largest police union went to an appeals court seeking a halt to the vaccine requirement” reports the AP. All things point to “mounting trash. Closed firehouses. Fewer police and ambulances on the street.”

Mayor de Blasio claims the city has contingencies to maintain adequate staffing for public safety, including mandatory overtime and extra shifts; he called them tools that are typically used “in times of challenging crisis.” The mayor said “my job is to keep 8.8 million people safe” at a virtual news briefing where he called the sanitation slowdowns “unacceptable” and announced that the department will be forced to move to 12-hour and Sunday shifts to ensure trash doesn’t pile up.

Andrew Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association warned that the resulting longer response times will “be a death sentence to some people.” President of the Police Benevolent Association, Pat Lynch, stated the deadline “sets the city up for a real crisis.”

The Associated Press reports:

Nearly one-quarter of city employees covered by the impending mandate have yet to receive at least one vaccine dose as of Thursday, including 26% of police personnel, 29% of firefighters and EMS workers and 33% of sanitation workers, according to city-data. City jail guards have another month to comply.

The fire department said it was prepared to close up to 20% of its fire companies and have 20% fewer ambulances in service while changing schedules, canceling vacations and turning to outside EMS providers to make up for expected staffing shortages.
Ansbro said up to 40% of firehouses could have to close.

“The department must manage the unfortunate fact that a portion of our workforce has refused to comply with a vaccine mandate for all city employees,” Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, who had COVID-19 in January, said his department was sending reminders to workers whose records indicated they hadn’t yet received a shot and that NYPD vaccination sites will remain open all weekend.

More than 700 officers were vaccinated on Thursday alone, the NYPD said, rushing to meet the deadline for the mandate and an extra incentive: workers who get a shot by Friday at a city-run vaccination site will get $500.

“On Monday, when this thing really starts being enforced, we’re going to check the vaccination status and if you’re not vaccinated, no pay and you’re going to be not able to work,” Shea said in a video message Wednesday to officers. “I don’t think anyone wants that to happen. I don’t think you want it to happen. I certainly don’t. We need you out there.”

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COVID-19

Kamala Harris Tests Positive For COVID-19

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Kamala Harris

On Tuesday, the White House announced that Vice President Kamala Harris has tested positive for COVID-19 and is not currently showing symptoms.

“Today, Vice President Harris tested positive for COVID-19 on rapid and PCR tests,” said Kirsten Allen, press secretary to the vice president. “She has exhibited no symptoms, will isolate and continue to work from the Vice President’s residence. She has not been a close contact to the President or First Lady due to their respective recent travel schedules. She will follow CDC guidelines and the advice of her physicians. The Vice President will return to the White House when she tests negative.”

Harris wrote on Twitter that she was going to continue to isolate and is showing no symptoms.

“Today I tested positive for COVID-19. I have no symptoms, and I will continue to isolate and follow CDC guidelines. I’m grateful to be both vaccinated and boosted,” Harris tweeted.

Harris last reportedly saw President Biden at the Easter Egg Roll on April 18 before leaving for California, which she returned from on April 25.

The vice president has been vaccinated against COVID-19 and has received two booster shots, receiving the second booster on April 1.

“Yesterday I received my second COVID-19 booster shot,” Harris tweeted on April 2. “We know that getting vaccinated is the best form of protection from this virus and boosters are critical in providing an additional level of protection. If you haven’t received your first booster—do it today.”

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COVID-19

At Least 3 US Airlines Will Restore Flight Privileges To Some Mask Violators

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At least three major U.S. airlines – Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines – have now said they will allow some passengers who were banned from their planes over mask violations to have their flight privileges restored – determined on a case-by-case basis.

On Wednesday, Delta released a statement saying, “At Delta, nothing is more important than the safety and security of our customers and our people. With masks now optional, Delta will restore flight privileges for customers on the mask non-compliance no-fly list only after each case is reviewed and each customer demonstrates an understanding of their expected behavior when flying with us.”

“Any further disregard for the policies that keep us all safe will result in placement on Delta’s permanent no-fly list. Customers who demonstrated egregious behavior and are already on the permanent no-fly list remain barred from flying with Delta,” the statement added.

United Airlines similarly announced it will allow passengers it banned for not following mask rules to be allowed to fly again.

“On a case-by-case basis, we will allow some customers who were previously banned for failing to comply with mask-related rules to fly United again — after ensuring their commitment to follow all crewmember instructions on board,” United Airlines said in a statement.

American Airlines will also allow passengers banned for violating mask rules “to resume travel at some point in time,” according to the company’s chief government affairs officer, Nate Gatten.

“In cases where an incident may have started with face mask noncompliance and escalated into anything involving something more serious, or certainly an assault on one of our key members or customers, those passengers are going to remain on our permanent internal refuse list and will never be allowed to travel with us again,” Gatten said.

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