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Los Angeles to Require Vaccines or Regular COVID-19 Tests for City Employees

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Los Angeles officials announced Tuesday that city employees must either get vaccinated or submit to regular COVID-19 testing, joining the state of California, New York City and other localities in an effort to goad public workers to take the vaccine as cases surge.

Mayor Eric Garcetti and Council President Nury Martinez announced the policy in a joint statement, saying they will push for a full vaccine mandate once the COVID vaccines are fully authorized by the Food and Drug Administration.

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“I think it’s safe to say that we’re getting tired of putting our lives on hold to protect people who don’t want to protect themselves and get vaccinated,” Martinez said.

The move comes a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a similar rule for state employees and all California health care workers, both in the public and private sector. New York Mayor Bill De Blasio also announced such a requirement for city workers on Monday.

In Los Angeles, the vaccine rate among firefighters and police officers has lagged well behind the general population. Last month, the L.A. Times reported that 51% of city firefighters and 52% of LAPD officers had received at least one vaccine dose.

COVID numbers are again spiking, due to the highly infectious delta variant, prompting employers and governments to begin to impose certain penalties on the unvaccinated.

In Hollywood, labor unions have agreed to allow production companies to mandate vaccines for “Zone A” workers — that is, actors and others who must be on set without masks. Several productions are beginning to impose such a mandate, and a few have asked unions to agree to a mandate for the entire crew. The latest production protocols also impose some extra restrictions on unvaccinated workers, such as requiring them to socially distance during meal breaks.

For Los Angeles city workers, it remains to be seen how employee unions will respond to the new vaccine rules. The unions have previously told the Times they would oppose a vaccine mandate. The mayor and council president said that they would consult with the unions in working out the specifics of the testing protocols.

In the statement, Garcetti said he would urge private employers to follow the city’s example.

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