By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) — Police officers and first responders in New Mexico’s largest city would be ordered to get vaccinated against COVID-19 under a proposed amendment to New Mexico’s public health statement. city emergency.
Albuquerque elected officials have already acknowledged that police forces and fire and rescue services were overstretched even before the pandemic began with persistent violent crime, soaring homelessness and other calls . The measure due to be introduced at Monday’s city council meeting was expected to get a cool response from union members.
The sponsor of the measure, Democratic City Councilman Isaac Benton, did not respond to questions ahead of Monday’s meeting about the potential effects or how the city could fill any emergency service gaps that would likely result. Democratic Mayor Tim Keller, who is seeking re-election, did not immediately say whether he would support the amendment.
The push for mandatory vaccines among public safety officers in Albuquerque comes as police and fire unions as well as officers and first responders across the United States push back by filing lawsuits to block warrants.
In Seattle, the police department was forced to send detectives and non-patrol officers to emergency calls last week due to a shortage of patrol officers that union leaders fear will erupt. worsens due to vaccination mandates. In Chicago, union officials said more than 3,000 officers were refusing that city’s mandate, with union leaders saying it was illegal because the city had not negotiated terms with the union.
Healthcare workers have also protested similar mandates within their profession, and dozens of scientists, researchers and other workers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory – the birthplace of the atomic bomb – are also pursuing the lab’s mandate in of vaccines.
The wording of Albuquerque’s proposed amendment states that the pandemic is a unique crisis that continues to spread across New Mexico and that city employees who become ill cannot perform their duties properly, which which disrupts the proper functioning of the city government.
Many officers and first responders have questioned the purpose of the warrants, noting that they have worked throughout the pandemic under the same conditions and should not be forced to get vaccinated now, even if the number of cases is much lower than that of the peak.
In New Mexico, health officials said COVID-19 cases have plateaued, but they are still concerned about the level of community spread.
About 72% of adults in the state are fully immunized, but that percentage hasn’t changed much in recent weeks.
Albuquerque’s vaccine requirement would apply to all public safety officers in the city. If an exemption is granted, the worker will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test each week.
The mandate would take effect no later than three weeks after its approval. The council could vote as early as mid-November.
A vaccination mandate was imposed by Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham earlier this year for all workers in the state. Meanwhile, Bernalillo County officials said they don’t plan to require vaccines, pointing to staffing issues.
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