CHARLOTTE — From the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department to City Hall, the city of Charlotte employs more than 7,500 workers -- and leaders are trying to find out how many of them are vaccinated
“A great vaccination rate would be 100%,” Assistant City Manager Brent Cagle said.
The city asked all workers to disclose their vaccination status by Aug. 24. So far, about 7,000 employees responded and that current vaccination rate is 66%.
Looking at the data closer, the vaccination rate for those who are not frontline employees is 81%. The vaccination rate for frontline employees, who make up a bulk of the workforce, is much lower, at 51%.
The city is providing cash from the American Rescue Plan to boost vaccination rates. All employees vaccinated by Sept. 30 will get $250. If 75% of city workers get the shot, they’ll all get another $250.
With the delta variant raging and COVID-19 vaccines widely available, some council members asked why the city manager isn’t mandating the vaccines.
“It seems fiscally and operationally imprudent to not mandate vaccines for employees,” Councilman Braxton Winston said.
The city said that roughly 1,000 people on the city’s benefits plan have been treated for COVID-19 and about 800 of them were hospitalized. According to the city’s head of the human relations department, that came at a cost of $2.8 million.
“I am aware we have had employees in the hospital for several months, so we are paying for this one way or another,” Mayor Vi Lyles said.
City Manager Marcus Jones said a vaccine mandate has been discussed and is possible in the future, but he wants to see the response to incentives first.
With frontline employees interacting with the public every day, Winston said he wants to see the shots mandated sooner than Sept. 30.
“We should not be perpetuating a pandemic we have a duty to put down,” Winston said.
The city is also offering seven days of emergency leave for people who test positive or need to quarantine. Frontline workers will also get 5% pay bumps for eight weeks as premium pay.
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According to Jones, the city has $11 million slated for operations from the American Rescue Plan. Costs for individual vaccine rewards are estimated at $1.5 million. Costs for the team vaccine reward are also $1.5 million. Premium pay and emergency leave will cost between $2 million and 3 million.
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