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NYC mayor issues vaccine mandate for cops, firefighters, city workers

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NYC mayor issues vaccine mandate for cops, firefighters, city workers

By MICHAEL R. SISAK and MICHELLE L. PRICE

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City will require its entire municipal workforce to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be placed on unpaid leave, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday, an ultimatum that ensures a fight with some unions representing employees, including police officers and firefighters, who have refused the shots.

The Democrat gave approximately 46,000 unvaccinated city employees until Nov. 1 to get their first vaccine dose, and he offered an incentive: City workers who get a shot by Oct. 29 at a city-run vaccination site will get an extra $500 in their paycheck.

“My job as your mayor is to keep this city safe, keep this city healthy. And vaccination is the way,” he said.

Several unions castigated the mandates as unfair and vowed to sue.

New York City’s largest police union, the Police Benevolent Association, said getting vaccinated is a “personal medical decision” that officers should make in consultation with their doctors.

“Now that the city has moved to unilaterally impose a mandate, we will proceed with legal action to protect our members’ rights,” said its president, Pat Lynch.

The city previously mandated vaccines for teachers and the state has previously mandated vaccines for health care workers. Previously, most city workers could avoid being vaccinated by showing proof of a negative COVID-19 test each week.

With the expanded mandate, more than 300,000 city employees will need to be vaccinated, roughly 160,000 more than previously covered by vaccination rules. Jailers on Rikers Island, where the city has been grappling with staffing shortages, won’t be subject to the mandate until Dec. 1.

De Blasio’s announcement came amid new uproar over NYPD officers defying even simple measures, like wearing face masks. On Monday, two police officers were seen on video shoving a man out of a Manhattan subway station when he confronted them for flouting rules requiring they wear masks.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said Wednesday the incident was “absolutely inexcusable” and that the officers would be disciplined.

“Nobody’s getting fired over this incident. Nobody’s getting suspended over this incident,” Shea told reporters. “But at the same time, I’m not in any way, shape, or form attempting to downplay that. I think we’re better than that and I think the public deserves better than that.”

The city’s police watchdog agency, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, said Wednesday that it’s also looking into the mask confrontation for potential violations, such as the officers’ use of force and failure to identify themselves, which could result in further discipline.

About 71% of the NYPD’s workforce has had at least one shot of the vaccine, compared to just just under 80% of adult New Yorkers citywide.

New York City’s mandate comes as other cities are starting to punish — and even fire — first responders who fail to meet vaccine requirements.

In Seattle, six police officers and 11 firefighters are slated for termination after that city’s vaccine mandate took effect Monday. Another 93 Seattle officers and 66 firefighters were sidelined Tuesday while seeking religious or medical exemptions.

In Massachusetts, a police union said at least 150 state troopers are resigning over that state’s mandate. In Washington State, as of Tuesday, 127 state troopers have been fired for defying a vaccine mandate and another 32 have resigned or retired rather than getting vaccinated.

In Chicago, where city workers are required to log their vaccine status, Mayor Lori Lightfoot last week accused the president of that city’s police union of trying to “induce an insurrection” by encouraging officers to defy that requirement — even after the union’s former president died of COVID-19. The dispute is now in court.

Kate Andrias, a labor law professor at Columbia Law School, said there’s broad consensus among legal experts that employers have the right to mandate vaccinations, though, as de Blasio noted, the city’s union contracts could require negotiating precisely how it’s implemented.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court denied a challenge to the teacher vaccine mandate, showing a potential legal pathway for expanding the requirement to other city agencies.

“Ultimately, it is a mistake to see vaccine requirements as violating worker rights,” Andrias said, suggesting some employees are probably wary of getting close to unvaccinated colleagues.

New York City also recently adopted rules requiring adults to show proof of vaccination to eat indoors at restaurants or to attend sporting events — or even play in them.

One of the city’s biggest basketball stars, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, has been banned from playing or practicing for refusing to get the vaccine. In barring the seven-time all star, the team cited New York City rules that pro athletes playing for a team in the city must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to play or practice in public venues.

More than 60 NYPD employees have died of COVID-19. The fire department, whose EMTs and paramedics were working around the clock in the early days of the pandemic, lost 16 workers to the virus.

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Associated Press reporter Karen Matthews contributed to this report. On Twitter, follow Michael Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak and Michelle Price at https://twitter.com/michellelprice

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Avalanche was 7-1 in Nathan MacKinnon’s absence. “Excited to try and help keep this thing rolling,” he said pregame from Toronto.

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Avalanche was 7-1 in Nathan MacKinnon’s absence. “Excited to try and help keep this thing rolling,” he said pregame from Toronto.

TORONTO — After the morning skate at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar confirmed top-line center Nathan MacKinnon will return to the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight to begin a five-game trip.

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Sheriff: Boy’s parents called to Oxford High before violence

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Oxford High School shooting: Fourth student dies

By COREY WILLIAMS and ED WHITE

OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A 15-year-old boy was charged Wednesday with murder, terrorism and other crimes for a shooting that killed four fellow students and injured others at a Michigan high school.

Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald did not reveal a possible motive for Tuesday’s violence at Oxford High School and declined to comment when pressed about whether she believed the victims were specifically targeted. But she said the shooting was premediated, based in part on a “mountain of digital evidence” collected by police.

Sheriff Mike Bouchard later told reporters that the boy’s parents had been summoned to the school before the violence. Bouchard wouldn’t discuss details of the behavior school officials were concerned about.

“There is nothing that he could have faced that would warrant senseless, absolutely brutal violence on other kids,” he said.

Ethan Crumbley is accused of firing a semi-automatic handgun in a school hallway, roughly 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Detroit. At least seven other people were injured.

Crumbley was charged as an adult with murder, attempted murder and terrorism causing death. It wasn’t immediately known if he had an attorney who could comment.

“This was not just an impulsive act,” McDonald said.

The shooting should be a wakeup call for new gun laws in a country that has become “desensitized to school shootings,” McDonald told reporters.

“We have to do better,” McDonald said without offering specific changes. “How many times does this have to happen? How many times?”

The charges were announced a few hours after investigators reported that a fourth student had died.

“What about all the children who ran, screaming, hiding under desks? … Those are victims, too, and so are their families and so is the community. The charge of terrorism reflects that,” the prosecutor said.

Deputies rushed to the school around lunchtime Tuesday and arrested Crumbley in a hallway within minutes of the shooting. His father bought the 9 mm Sig Sauer gun last week, according to the Oakland County sheriff.

McDonald strongly suggested that more charges will be filed.

“We are considering charges against both parents and we will be making a decision swiftly,” she said.

“Owning a gun means securing it properly and locking it and keeping the ammunition separate,” she said.

The four students who were killed were identified as 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin and 17-year-old Justin Shilling.

After the attack, authorities learned of social media posts about threats of a shooting at the roughly 1,700-student school. The sheriff stressed how crucial it is for such tips to be sent to authorities, while also cautioning against spreading social media rumors before a full investigation.

Undersheriff Mike McCabe downplayed the significance of a situation in early November when a deer’s head was thrown off the school roof, which he said was “absolutely unrelated” to the shooting. The incident prompted school administrators to post two letters to parents on the school’s website, saying they were responding to rumors of a threat against the school but had found none.

Isabel Flores, a 15-year-old ninth grader, told Detroit television station WJBK that she and other students heard gunshots and saw another student bleeding from the face. They then ran from the area through the rear of the school, she said.

A concerned parent, Robin Redding, said her son, 12th-grader Treshan Bryant, stayed home Tuesday after hearing threats of a possible shooting.

“This couldn’t be just random,” she said.

Bryant said he had heard vague threats “for a long time now” about plans for a shooting.

At a vigil Tuesday night at LakePoint Community Church, Leeann Dersa choked back tears as she hugged friends and neighbors. Dersa has lived nearly all of her 73 years in Oxford. Her grandchildren attended the high school.

“Scared us all something terrible. It’s awful,” Dersa said of the shooting.

Pastor Jesse Holt said news of the shooting flooded in to him and his wife, including texts from some of the 20 to 25 students who are among the 400-member congregation.

“Some were very scared, hiding under their desks and texting us, ‘We’re safe, we’re OK. We heard gunshots, but we’re OK.’ They were trying to calm us, at least that’s how it felt,” he said.

___

Associated Press journalists Ryan Kryska, Mike Householder and David Aguilar in Oxford Township, Michigan; Kathleen Foody in Chicago; and Josh Boak in Rosemount, Minnesota, contributed to this report. AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York also contributed.

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Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr. undergoes back surgery, team says

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Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr. was playing with back pain this whole season, says Austin Rivers

Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. underwent lumbar spine surgery, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

He is out indefinitely, the release said. The surgery was performed by Dr. Andrew Dossett at the Carrell Clinic.

Porter, 23, has had three back surgeries, including two since the Nuggets drafted him in 2018. Porter had been playing hurt all season before tweaking his back against Houston on Nov. 6. He was dealing with a nerve issue in his back, as The Denver Post first reported.

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