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Essential workers rallying against the vaccine mandate in New York. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

About 9,000 New York City workers were put on unpaid leave for refusing to get vaccinated for COVID-19, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday.

Driving the news: New York City's vaccine mandate for all city employees went into effect on Monday. The 9,000 holdouts represent a fraction of the city's 400,000 employees.

The big picture: The city has not had any disruptions to any services because of staffing shortages, de Blasio said at his daily press briefing.

  • The mayor said those who were placed on unpaid leave can return if they receive the vaccine.

By the numbers: The mayor also said they received 12,000 religious exemptions, which they were looking at and figuring out "in the coming days." 91% of New York City's public employees are fully vaccinated.

  • More than 22,000 employees have been vaccinated since the mandate was announced, and more than 3,500 workers got vaccinated over the weekend.

What he's saying: "Thank you for getting vaccinated. Thank you for doing the right thing. Thank you for moving us forward," de Blasio said in a press briefing.

  • "To every mayor in America, every governor in America, every CEO of a company in America, go to a full vaccination mandate because it will allow us to end the COVID era once and for all," de Blasio added.

Go deeper

14 hours ago - Health

CDC strengthens COVID booster recommendation

Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday strengthened its previous recommendation for booster shots, saying that everyone 18 and older "should" receive a booster dose.

Why it matters: Last month, CDC director Rochelle Walensky accepted a key advisory committee's recommendation that adults "may" get the shot. The slight, but strengthened, change in wording comes amid the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Biden: Fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Monday said that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Driving the news: Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how "we're going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."

Nov 26, 2021 - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID-19 strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.