Lawsuit planned against NYC's private-sector vaccine mandate, omicron cases tick up

Coronavirus Update for New York City

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Wednesday, December 8, 2021
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N.J. Burkett has more on the latest omicron developments across New York City.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- As omicron cases are starting to tick up nationwide, the lawsuits continue against New York City's vaccine mandates.

The latest comes from a Staten Island attorney who wants to file a class-action suit on behalf of anyone who works in the city that doesn't want to get vaccinated.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the most aggressive vaccine mandate in the country, requiring private-sector workers to get vaccinated by December 27.

"We are going to be filing a class-action lawsuit, we received dozens, dozens of calls yesterday and dozens more today, on behalf of any employee," attorney Louis Gelormino said. "Anybody that works in New York City that has a job in New York City, this could be from 16 years old to 75 years old, anybody that works in New York City that doesn't want to get the vaccination, we are going to be filing a class-action lawsuit on their behalf."

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There are questions about how it's going to be enforced, and the NYPD says the responsibility won't be on them. For businesses, it's yet another layer of red tape. They're worried it could lead to even more worker shortages.

The mayor, however, says the mandate is actually pro-business.

"They like to see the government lead," he said. "We did that with our own public employees, our own public schools. We proved it works. And then what we also heard from business leaders is whatever you do, don't let us go back to shut down. Don't let us go backward."

Of course, many companies have already imposed their own vaccine mandates without government intervention.

The city's vaccination rate is already close to 90%, one of the highest in the nation. Statewide, that number is 70%, while roughly 60% of all Americans are vaccinated.

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On Wednesday, Pfizer's top doctor recommended booster shots as a way to help fight the omicron variant.

The latest data indicates that the omicron variant of COVID-19 is more than twice as contagious. But so far, the illnesses it produces appear less severe than the current delta variant. Experts say it hardly matters.

"We should be worried about getting any COVID-19 virus, frankly, it doesn't really matter what the trademark is," said Dr. Reynold Panettieri with Rutgers University. "What you want to do is avoid the infection the way to do that with vaccination, avoiding crowds if necessary, and just being cautious."

For the moment, the greatest COVID-19 risk to New Yorkers is the delta variant. Although the new variant is spreading.

De Blasio said he is concerned about omicron community spread in neighborhoods with lower vaccination rates.

"Definitely concerned because this is a real challenge," he said. "We need a lot more information on omicron, but we believe it is more transmissible than delta. That's a real concern. Again, we also believe there is community spread at this point. We will keep tracking individual cases, but we believe there is community spread. I think it's too early to say there are clusters. I think we are going to see more and more cases very quickly over the coming weeks."

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