LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - Amid an alarming surge of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles County, Saturday was also the deadline for city workers to be fully vaccinated or have an acceptable exemption.
Even as the deadline lands, officials with the City of Los Angeles were reporting that only 80% of city workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and in compliance with the city mandate requiring all workers to get the shots if they want to remain employed by the city.
"I look at it as the cup is actually half full, more than half full," City Councilman Kevin de León said.
While de León tried to stay positive about the number of fully vaccinated workers, other council members said the mandate is a hard line that is necessary.
"We shouldn't even have this conversation, frankly. This should be a conversation about how we come together and put this behind us," Councilman Gil Cedillo said.
City Council President Nury Martinez also released a statement regarding the mandate's deadline that read:
"Overall, the intention was never to fire anyone, but we cannot put the residents of this city at risk of getting sick, and possibly dying, because of an unvaccinated city employee. As a city leader, that is my responsibility."
It's unclear how many full-time or part time city workers will actually lose their jobs. Some of those still unvaccinated might have just started the vaccination process. Others might be applying for a religious or medical exemption.
However, council members want to know who's staying and who is not as soon as possible.
"We don't want to compromise city services," said Councilman Mitch O'Farrell. "We've had almost two years of this pandemic. The verdict is in. The data is in. The science is proven over and over again. The time is now to put aside all this disinformation and realize vaccinations work and they save lives."
As of this week, 94 city firefighters were on unpaid leave for not getting the shot and they filed a lawsuit over the mandate, echoing a lawsuit filed by members of the Los Angeles Police Department.
"The greatest law enforcement agency and firefighters in the country, I think those who are going to put the general public in peril are those who have not been vaccinated. Let's be very clear, the last thing I want is to be served by someone who has not been vaccinated and who gets me sick," de León said.
The council is expected to get a report in just a few days from each department with numbers on how many workers did not meet the mandate and are on the path to termination.
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