Cincinnati's COVID-19 mandate for city employees underway

59% are vaccinated
COVID vaccination record card
Posted at 8:04 PM, Oct 24, 2021

CINCINNATI — All Cincinnati city employees must be fully vaccinated or submit a bi-weekly negative COVID-19 test, a mandate that began Sunday.

In an email, Kelly Carr, the assistant to the city manager, said that more than 59% of city employees reported they were vaccinated as of Monday. That accounts for 3,753 of 6,064 employees. One employee did identify the policy as a reason for resignation. The city will consider exemptions for those unable to get tested. Employees can also request up to one hour off to go get tested if they have a scheduled appointment.

The city's COVID-19 policy was set to start last month, but officials pushed it back to reach an agreement with local unions. The initial mandate called for unvaccinated workers to test negative every week. In this new version, employees must test every two weeks.

Not everyone supports the mandate.

"We're very disappointed that it's happening at all, but realize that we could be worse — we could be like Seattle or Chicago, where it was just vaccine or hit the door," Fraternal Order of Police President Sgt. Dan Hils said. "We have a testing option here, and because of the testing option, but again I think it's harassment of our people, but because there is a testing option, I think it's better than a confrontation with the agency that causes policemen to be fired."

Hils said some officers are challenging the policy in court. He estimates 30-40% of his officers are unvaccinated, and does not think this requirement will move numbers.

"Those of us who have been vaccinated are vaccinated. Those of us who are not vaccinated will remain unvaccinated. There will be rare exceptions to that, but people made up their mind," Hils said. "This is, you know, to me, this is unconstitutional. There are officers that are filing lawsuits over this...we have an unfair labor practice over this."

The Cincinnati firefighters union is expressing concern about the testing plan for on-duty fire fighters who work out of 26 stations across the city.

"About 200 fire fighters on-duty every day," Cincinnati Fire Fighters Local 48 President Matt Alter said. "So, it's going to be a logistical and operational nightmare."