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800+ DC government workers not in compliance with COVID vaccine mandate

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue says the first step in the disciplinary process is a formal notification. The next step could be suspension.

WASHINGTON — At a press conference Thursday afternoon, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said officials continue to look into government employees and healthcare workers that are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Government employees who are required to provide proof of vaccine status include educational staff, such as teachers, and healthcare providers, such as firefighters and EMS. 

Deputy City Administrator and the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue gave the latest details into how many employees are currently not in compliance with the vaccine policy. 

According to Donahue, in D.C. 880 employees are in some form of the disciplinary process related to the vaccine mandate. Most of those people work in education, including 204 full-time teachers.

Donahue says the first formal step in the disciplinary process is a formal notification. 

"I've said this before in these settings, that there's some people who've been vaccinated for months that have not wanted to inform us of their status, now they have to," said Donahue. "And they're going and doing that."

None of the 204 teachers that are not in compliance with the mandate have been removed from their classrooms. The next step in the disciplinary process would include suspension. Donahue says the typical suspension would be around five days and would then lead to a longer-term leave without pay. 

"What other jurisdictions have found, is when they make that leap from a written notification to your losing pay for say five days, that numbers do go down," explained Donahue. "So, all those 204 teachers are at their written notification status. No one, at this point, has been suspended."

Regarding staff members of D.C. Fire and EMS, Donahue says six or seven people are currently not in compliance with the vaccine mandate.

Donahue also went over the latest number of exemptions that have been approved or are currently being considered. He said currently there are 839 religious exemption requests across D.C. government. Nearly half of those requests come from education workers and a little more than 300 of those requests were submitted by healthcare workers. 

Donahue says one religious exemption request has been accepted and 22 others have been denied across D.C. government. He went on to explain that 78 people who were applying for the exemption were denied because they were able to test for the virus, making the exemption unnecessary. 

According to Donahue, 70 people have applied for medical exemptions to the COVID vaccine mandate. He says 11 of those requests have been denied, eight have been accepted and the rest are pending. 

You can watch the full press conference here:

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