Just days after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced new and stricter COVID vaccine mandates on the population, including young children, a judge has halted the enforcement of vaccinations on municipal workers. The current mandate covers all city employees, including police officers and firefighters. However, on Tuesday, December 7, New York Supreme Court Judge Frank Nervo granted a hearing to see if a restraining order is warranted.
The hearing was in response to a lawsuit that included the case of NYPD Detective Anthony Marciano, who argued he had “developed and retains a natural immunity to COVID, as demonstrated by recent blood testing” and therefore refuses to consent to the vaccination. Anti-vaccination activist and attorney Patricia Finn, who describes herself as “The Good Health Lawyer New Yotk [sic]” on Twitter started the legal battle. In part, the lawsuit states:
“It is abundantly clear by now that the Vaccination Order is not a limited emergency health measure to prevent the spread of COVID by city employees having significant contact with the public, or by those city workers in contact with a particularly vulnerable population. The Vaccination Order applies with equal force to City employees having little or no contact with the public, and does not apply to non-City employees who may have extensive public contact.”
The requirement for all city employees to have at least the first vaccine shot by October 29 was imposed days before, on October 20. Those who did not comply faced suspension without pay. City officials listed in the legal complaint include Mayor de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi, the city’s Board of Health, and the city itself. Those in favor of the mandate have until December 13 to respond to Judge Nervo’s filing, and the hearing is scheduled for December 14.
Also on Tuesday, President Joe Biden lost a third attempt to enforce vaccine mandates after a federal judge blocked the requirement for businesses, saying the government had exceeded its authority. The courts have now put a hold on all three of the president’s mandates; the first two regarding businesses with 100 or more employees, and another that targeted health care workers.
On Monday, December 6, de Blasio issued his next plan in the fight against COVID: vaccine mandates for private-sector workers and children five to 11 years old. “New York City will not give a single inch in the fight against COVID-19. Vaccination is the way out of this pandemic, and these are bold, first-in-the-nation measures to encourage New Yorkers to keep themselves and their communities safe,” he said, adding that he was not worried about a court overturning his requirements as they had with Mr. Biden’s because the president’s mandates were all-encompassing while his were more specific.
Restaurant owners are arguing against the mandate, especially for children, saying it will further hurt the industry. Plus, as tourist season opens, there will be children visiting with their families from areas where vaccination is not available for the younger population.
A class-action lawsuit is reportedly in the works against the private-sector mandate, and after the recent delay in court for municipal workers, de Blasio may not be able to enforce city-wide vaccinations. Attorney Louis Gelormino of Staten Island said he plans to file the lawsuit on behalf of unvaccinated workers in the city:
“We are going to be filing a class action lawsuit, we received dozens, dozens of calls yesterday and dozens more today, on behalf of any employee. Anybody that works in NYC that has a job in NYC, this could be from 16 years old to 75 years old, anybody that works in NYC that doesn’t want to get the vaccination, we are going to be filing a class action lawsuit on their behalf.”
~ Read more from Kelli Ballard.