SEATTLE — All City of Seattle employees must prove they are vaccinated for COVID-19 or file for an exemption by midnight on Monday, Oct. 18.
Across the city, the compliance with the vaccine mandate sits at 99%. City leaders are unsure how staffing levels will shake out, because they need to process the medical and religious exemptions.
With concerns about staffing levels for Seattle Police and Seattle Fire, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan reassured residents, “If someone calls 911 there will not be significant impacts on response,” said Mayor Durkan.
Two weeks ago nearly 300 Seattle police officers had not turned in any paperwork, about a quarter of the police force. SPD made contingency plans and had all sworn personnel who work office jobs report to work in uniform.
As of Monday morning, 91% of the police department was vaccinated, 7% had filed for exemptions and only 2% had not submitted paperwork.
“Only about two dozen officers have not put in their paperwork. They have until 11:59 p.m. tonight. I hope they do it,” said Mayor Durkan.
Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins says they’ve only had one case of a firefighter contracting COVID from a patient. He says they have had COVID spread inside fire stations.
“The rules change tomorrow and we’re trying to come into compliance with the mayor’s directive and the governor’s proclamation. Our goal is not to put the community at risk. Our goal also is not to put each other at risk,” said Chief Scoggins.
So far 93% of the Seattle Fire Department is vaccinated, 6% filed for exemptions and one percent haven’t submitted paperwork. That one percent represents about 16 firefighters. Chief Scoggins says they won’t be able to go to work on Tuesday.
The mayor was asked if the police officers who have not filed paperwork will be fired, Mayor Durkan wasn’t ready to comment. She said she wants to wait until midnight on Monday to see what happens.
If the exemptions aren’t approved, Seattle Fire and Seattle Police will have to rely on their contingency plans to help cover the city due to staffing shortages.
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