New York Governor Kathy Hochul will not give MTA staff a vaccination mandate despite a public appeal from Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The governor, who gave a tour of the future expansion of the Second Avenue Subway in East Harlem, said the MTA is already coping with its current vaccination or weekly COVID test requirement so there is no need to issue a mandate.
“I appreciate the advice that comes in our way. That’s fine,” said Hochul. “If we had a problem I’d bring it up, but we’re doing an excellent job.”
During his morning press conference, de Blasio stated that transport workers were “heroes during the COVID crisis” but positioned a vaccine mandate as a way to “get out of the COVID era”.
The mayor took the opportunity to brag about his efforts with a municipal vaccination mandate. As of Monday, 94% of city employees had been vaccinated, with rates of 87% for the NYPD and 91% for the FDNY.
“It worked with the New York workforce,” said de Blasio. “It can work with the MTA too. There are people here in the same city serving the same New Yorkers, how about if we use the same strategy, they all have to be vaccinated and that helps us move forward.”
“The unionized workforce of the MTA and millions of transit drivers are grateful this Thanksgiving that Mayor de Blasio is not running the subway and bus system – and is finally walking out the door,” said Tony Utano, president of the Transit Workers Union Local 100 , opposite Gothamist. “The current system, which gives transit workers the choice of being vaccinated or having regular tests, works while we continue to educate and encourage members to get the vaccination.”
Last week, MTA officials said about 70% of the workforce would have received at least one vaccination at an MTA vaccination site, and they estimated that another 10% would have received at least one vaccination elsewhere. Of the transit workers, the MTA announced in early November that 66% of the Bridges and Tunnels workers, 67% of NYC Transit, 64% of Long Island Railroad and 71% of Metro-North had been vaccinated.
Some MTA staff said a week and a half after the Vax-or-Test requirement went into effect that the agency did not check for negative tests.
The MTA said it is conducting random checks on its unvaccinated employees to ensure they have completed their weekly COVID tests.