SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Citing the arrival of the highly contagious omicron variant, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo announced Tuesday he was backing a proposal to strengthen his city’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate for municipal employees by now including booster shots as a condition of employment.
The mandate, which would need city council approval, would also cover residents or visitors that enter city-owned facilities.READ MORE: Napa Valley Looks to Restaurant Week to Help Jump-Start Economic Comeback
If the proposal is adopted at the January 5, 2022 council meeting San Jose would become the first city in California with such a mandate.
“To avoid crippling levels of hospitalizations and tragic outcomes, we have the great benefit of widespread access to booster shots, but we lack the benefit of time,” Liccardo said in a news release. “We must take decisive action to protect our workforce and our community, and a booster mandate will help.”
Currently, Liccardo’s office said, there was evidence from federal health authorities that showed a third shot can substantially reduce the incidence of serious illness.
In his proposal, Liccardo directed the city manager to work with the municipal employee union bargaining units in anticipation of establishing a January implementation for the booster requirement.
“We lack the benefit of time and we need to move quickly,” said Liccardo at a press conference Tuesday.READ MORE: Wind-Whipped Wildfire in Big Sur Shuts Hwy 1, Forces Evacuations
As it stands now, 95 percent of the city of San Jose’s workforce is fully vaccinated. A total of six employees have received notice of intended discipline for not getting their shots.
Three have been suspended a week without pay so far.
Just last week, Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s public health director, made a dire prediction about the weeks ahead as the omicron variant spreads and cases rise.
“When I look around the corner ahead, what I see is a deluge of omicron. What I see is perhaps one of the most challenging moments we have yet in the pandemic,” Cody said at a news conference Thursday. “And I think it’s challenging because it’s not what we’re expecting. We’ve all come to learn to live with COVID over the last two years and we’re all a little bit tired.”
Cody said there are now 10 cases of the variant, one week after confirming the county’s first case. The variant has also been found in all four wastewater treatment plants in the county, while it was found only in one treatment plant a week ago.
Among the cases, four were unvaccinated people. Five of the cases were among those who were vaccinated but did not receive their booster shot, while the remaining case had the third dose but did not reach full immunity.MORE NEWS: Two Years On, Employment Still Below Pre-Pandemic Peak
Cody also predicted the variant, first discovered about a month ago, would take hold in the United States just as it has in Europe.