LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday that the department will wait for instructions from city officials on how to interpret exemption requests for the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, following a report that thousands of employees plan to pursue religious or medical exemptions to the rule.
"We have seen a number of our personnel who have filed for an intent to have an exemption, based on either medical or sincerely held religious belief," Moore told the Los Angeles Police Commission. He added that "the department will wait for the city to provide instructions relative to the interpretation and what will happen to those intentions to file."
The Los Angeles Times reported Monday evening that 2,600 Los Angeles Police Department employees said they intend to seek religious exemptions and 350 plan to seek medical exemptions to the mandate that all city employees get vaccinated.
The Los Angeles City Council approved the ordinance on Aug. 18. Non- exempt employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 5, and exemptions will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Those who have exemptions have to get tested weekly for COVID-19.
Just over 54% of department personnel, or 6,573 employees, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Moore said Tuesday. Of the department's more than 12,000 employees, 3,102 have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began, 66 of them within the last two weeks. Four employees are hospitalized, with two of them being taken to a hospital in the last two weeks. The other two have been "hospitalized for an extended time," Moore told the commission.
"This policy allows for medical and religious exemptions to protect certain workers’ health and constitutional rights, but let me be absolutely clear: we will not tolerate the abuse of these exemptions by those who simply don’t want to get vaccinated. To anyone thinking about filing a disingenuous exemption request, I strongly urge that you reconsider. Every request will be carefully vetted, and our goal will always be to get as many Angelenos vaccinated as possible," stated LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.
The LAPD is conducting a mobile vaccination program in an effort to get employees inoculated. In the last two weeks, the program has vaccinated 156 additional employees.
"We have appeared to have reached a plateau with department personnel. What are we going to do to get above that rate?" Commission President William Brigg asked. Moore said the city's negotiations with labor unions are ongoing regarding the vaccination mandate's details and the consequences of personnel not complying.
He added that the department is focusing on educating employees about the "true and present danger that this virus poses."
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