Firefighters rally Thursday outside Gracie Mansion, Mayor Bill de Blasio's...

Firefighters rally Thursday outside Gracie Mansion, Mayor Bill de Blasio's Manhattan residence, to protest the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for New York City workers.  Credit: AP/Jeenah Moon

More than 26,000 city workers — including police, fire and sanitation workers — could be placed on unpaid leave on Monday, when New York City implements its mandate that virtually all its workers have at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, according to city figures released Saturday.

As of Saturday, a total of 89% of the city workforce was vaccinated, increasing from 84% on Tuesday, according to the city figures.

Still, a total of 26,600 city workers remained unvaccinated, the figures show. Those numbers represent a major decrease from even a few days before, when 46,300 city workers didn't have at least one inoculation Tuesday, according to the figures.

"We issued a #COVID19 vaccine mandate and our workforce stepped up," Mayor Bill de Blasio Tweeted on Friday night.

All municipal workers were required to show proof of at least one vaccination by 5 p.m. Friday, or be placed on unpaid leave starting Monday.

The NYPD saw its vaccination rate rise to 84% on Friday, up from 70% on Tuesday, the figures show.

The FDNY has 72% of its ranks inoculated Friday, up from 58% on Tuesday.

EMS rose to 84% from 61% in that time period.

The city Department of Sanitation increased to 77% from 62% in that time frame, according to the figures.

FDNY firefighters call out sick

Meanwhile, FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro criticized those firefighters who were protesting the vaccine mandate by using paid sick leave.

"The excessive sick leave by a group of our firefighters because of their anger at the vaccine mandate for all city employees is unacceptable, contrary to their oaths to serve, and may endanger the lives of New Yorkers," Nigro said in a statement.

Firefighters are going on medical leave, which has led to companies becoming temporarily out of service, fire officials said. The department has not closed any firehouses.

"Despite these actions by some, the department will continue to respond to all calls for help that come our way," Nigro said.

Health care workers protest the state's COVID-19 vaccination mandate outside...

Health care workers protest the state's COVID-19 vaccination mandate outside the New York State Office Building in Hauppauge on Aug. 27. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Elsewhere, a federal appeals court has lifted the temporary restraining order that blocked New York State from enforcing its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers who requested religious exemptions.

The U.S. appeals panel on Friday upheld the state’s vaccine mandate for health care workers, rejecting arguments by lawyers for doctors, nurses and other professionals that it did not adequately protect those with religious objections.

The ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan reversed a decision by an upstate judge who had temporarily blocked vaccination requirements on the grounds that the mandate did not accommodate religious exemptions.

In a brief order, a panel of three 2nd Circuit judges also upheld a ruling by a Brooklyn judge who had found the mandate constitutional.

Attorney Cameron Lee Atkinson, who argued before the appeals panel, said Friday that he's already drafting an appeal to bring to the U.S. Supreme Court. Earlier on Friday, that court rejected the appeal of a similar mandate in Maine that also does not allow for a religious exemption.

"New York’s mandate forces an abominable choice on New York health care workers: abandon their faith or lose their careers," he said.

Atkinson named three plaintiffs, all nurses, who he said had refused to get vaccinated and "refused to buy one-way tickets to hell on the hysteria express."

Gov. Kathy Hochul praised the court decision.

"On Day One, I pledged as Governor to battle this pandemic and take bold action to protect the health of all New Yorkers," Hochul said in a statement. "I commend the Second Circuit's findings affirming our first-in-the-nation vaccine mandate, and I will continue to do everything in my power to keep New Yorkers safe."

LI, NY virus numbers still dropping

Long Island and the state continued a downward trend in several important areas such as hospitalizations and people in the ICU, according to state figures released Saturday.

Across the state, the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations decreased by 49 to 1,864 on Friday, according to the new figures.

The number of people in ICUs dropped by 14 to 455, the figures said.

The seven-day average for the percentage of infections was 2.10% on Long Island on Friday, on par with the results in recent days. This marked a steep decrease from the surge during the summer when the spread of the delta variant drove that figure to over 4%.

Nassau County saw 197 new cases and Suffolk registered 283, for a total of 480 — a major drop from the summer surge when cases here were regularly double that.

New York City had 834 new cases.

Thirty-two New Yorkers died Friday due to virus-related illness, including three in Nassau and six in Suffolk, the state figures show.

With AP.

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