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Despite mandate, only 56% of Syracuse city employees have provided proof of vaccination

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh delivering his monthly briefing with Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner and Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens (not shown).
Madison Ruffo
WRVO Public Media
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh delivering his monthly briefing with Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner and Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens (not shown).

As of Thursday, 56% of city of Syracuse employees had shown proof of vaccination, according to Mayor Ben Walsh.

While that may seem low, that’s much higher than the citywide vaccination rate of around 45% for the entire population. Walsh is also confident that the number of employees actually vaccinated is even higher given the requirement put in place by the city.

“The city of Syracuse is the only local municipality with a vaccine or test requirement,” said Walsh.

That 56% encompasses all sectors of city government, including the Syracuse Police Department. While Walsh would not give specific vaccination rates by department, he said, generally, the bigger the department, the lower the rate.

“The lower numbers tend to be on the larger departments in terms of overall reporting,” he said. “And I think that's just the nature of, of the size of the departments, the number of employees.”

As of right now, the city is not taking disciplinary action against non-compliant employees, but Walsh said more action will start to happen around the end of the month.

“It starts with a written reprimand and can end with termination and there's a progression that gets there,” said Walsh about the progressive discipline. “I can't speak to the specific steps. But termination is the end of that process.”

Another topic Walsh covered was his visit to Van Duyn Nursing Home with State Senators John Mannion and Rachel May on Thursday. He said while acknowledging that the facility is struggling with staffing, he’s still concerned about both the infectious disease control and quality of life there.

“We're all facing those same challenges and none of that can be an excuse for allowing people to live in squalor to not be properly attended to,” he said.

He also discussed city plans to contribute to public comment about the I-81 viaduct project, the continued increase in violent crime so far this year, and city spending of the federal stimulus funds.

Madison Ruffo received a Master’s Degree from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, where she specialized in audio and health/science reporting. Madison has extensively covered the environment, local politics, public health, and business. When she’s not reporting, you can find Madison reading, hiking, and spending time with her family and friends.