Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Jackson workers now have additional time to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba’s vaccine mandate goes into effect. Originally scheduled for Aug. 31, City employees, contractors and subcontractors now have until Oct. 15 to get vaccinated before the mandate requires weekly COVID-19 tests.
“Today, Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba issued an executive order extending the deadline for Covid-19 guidelines requiring City employees, as well as contractors and subcontractors who are paid in whole or in part from funds provided under a city contract, to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination to October 15, 2021,” reads a statement from Lumumba’s official Facebook page.
Once the additional extension is over, employees will have to maintain weekly negative tests at their own expense, as well as wear masks at all times.
“Those employees and contractors, including temporary workers, who choose not to provide proof of their full vaccination status shall participate in weekly testing at their own cost,” the statement reads. “These employees will also continue to wear a face-covering at all times when at the workplace and/or during working hours when they can be expected to physically interact with City employees and members of the public.”
During a Sept. 20 press briefing Lumumba defended the vaccine requirements, citing alarming mortality rates in Mississippi. The state recently reached the grim ranking of the No. 1 state in the country for COVID-19 mortality.
“It is important to note that we are still in a very, very critical stage of the COVID pandemic in our city and in our county,” Lumumba said. “The vaccination rate is 55.5% within Hinds County with one shot and 48.4% of individuals who are fully vaccinated.”
“The majority of Jacksonians remain unvaccinated,” he said. “What we are witnessing is a pandemic amongst the unvaccinated. The state of Mississippi in fact has one of the highest mortality rates, not in the southern region, not even just within the United States, but we have one of the highest mortality rates in the world.”
Lumumba also compared his city-wide vaccine requirements to those the federal government recently instituted.
“We understand that there's trepidation,” Lumumba said. “We understand that there's vaccine hesitancy. We have provided an avenue for individuals who choose not to get vaccinated to be able to provide a negative test each week.”
Lumumba warned that the City will track non-adherence of the safety protocols and send out warnings in the near future.
“For City employees who have not done so yet, we are aware, and there will be notices sent out very soon of the city's position and the Human Resources Department’s understanding that you have not adhered to the protocol established by the City of Jackson,” the mayor said.
Email Reporting Fellow Julian Mills at [email protected].