“Thousands” of unvaxxed NYPD employees will be able to avoid the vaccine mandate for now, after asking the department for a special accommodation, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Friday.
The crush of applications for health and religious exemptions came this week, while hundreds of other cops lined up each day to get the COVID-19 vaccine, with the NYPD’s enforcement deadline set for Monday.
Those who applied for the exemption will be able to work with pay — while required to mask and complete weekly testing — as the NYPD’s Equal Employment Opportunity Division reviews the applications.
“When we have reasonable accommodations, they’re still coming to work as long as they put in for them by Wednesday,” Shea said on 1010Wins Friday morning. “So, that’ll actually work to our advantage here. You know, they’ll submit to the testing as their cases are reviewed on a one-to-one basis.”
Shea added later in the morning on Fox’s “Good Day New York” that the department has “thousands of people that have put in for” the exemption.
“So a little better position today than we were let’s say a week ago, but the planning continues,” he added.
The department has not disclosed the exact number of members who have applied for the exemption, but sources believe the tally is at least 6,000. It could take up to a month for the division to sift through the piles of applications, sources said.
Sources have previously said they believe the department will deny anyone’s request if they have no other exemptions on file.
Police unions have urged their members to apply for the special accommodations, which were due on Wednesday, as their attorneys tried to fight the mandate in court.
The NYPD’s largest police union had their request for a temporary restraining order shot down this week. Union officials said they have since appealed, but previous challenges to mandates have not been successful in the courts.
The NYPD vaccination rate has jumped eight percentage points this week, which is roughly 4,300 employees, according to Shea.
“We’ve had a significant number of people getting vaccinated in the last three days,” Shea said on Fox5. “We’re in good shape.”
The department has taken steps in case the vaccine mandate led to a mass exodus, something the unions warned could be in the cards, but so far, that prediction does not appear to have come true.