Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Significant numbers of police officers across the country are refusing the COVID-19 vaccine, ignoring mandates and leaning on their unions to back them up.

Why it matters: The Fraternal Order of Police, a national police union that represents 356,000 officers, estimates that more than 500 officers have died from COVID since the pandemic began.

  • The union and other police groups did not know of any statistics around how many believe to have contracted COVID on the job — or how many may have spread the virus.

The big picture: Cases have surged nationwide thanks to the Delta variant. Police are a major, omnipresent labor force tasked with protecting and interacting with the public.

  • Like health care workers, teachers and the military, police officers' COVID status could have ripple effects.

Driving the news: Denver’s top public safety leader said last week he'll discipline police officers and sheriff’s deputies who ignore a mandate to get vaccinated. A Denver Police Protective Association survey found 57% of its members aren't vaccinated.

  • A 10th employee of the Los Angeles Police Department died last week from complications of COVID-19 as the department saw 36 more cases, the Los Angeles Times reported. Half of the department remains unvaccinated.
  • The San Francisco Deputy Sheriffs' Association promised that deputies would quit en masse or seek early retirement over San Francisco Mayor London Breed's new vaccine mandate for officers. The group says 160 out of 700 deputies are not vaccinated due to religious or other beliefs.
  • In Michigan's Van Buren Township, west of Detroit, Adam Byrd, president of the local Police and Dispatchers Union, recently said perhaps one in five of the township's police and fire officials might quit as a result of a vaccine mandate.
  • New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that by Sept. 13 "every single city employee will be expected to be either vaccinated or tested weekly. This means everybody ... this means the NYPD." He promised "consequences" and to be "very tough if a city government employee does not wear a mask and they are unvaccinated."

The intrigue: The Fraternal Order of Police has said the science is clear about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines and recommends its members get vaccinated.

Yes, but: "We are a union and we will defend our members," executive director Jim Pasco told Axios. "You cannot tell people what to do. It's still an individual and personal choice."

  • Pasco denounced officials threatening officers with termination over defying vaccine mandates.
  • Specifically, he called out Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo for telling unvaccinated officers to go work elsewhere: "That's management by tantrum. That's not going to work. Have a conversation and encourage officers, but don't act childish."

Between the lines: Employers have the right to mandate vaccinations as a condition of employment, legal scholars say.

  • "Does the state generally have the power to impose vaccination requirements on workers? Historically, the answer has been yes," South Texas College of Law Houston constitutional law professor Josh Blackman told Axios.

But, but, but: Many police officers are represented by unions, and it would have been impossible for agreements to include mandates around COVID-19 vaccines before the pandemic, Blackman said.

  • Such mandates could be in violation of collective bargaining agreements, he said. "Unions don't like to yield ground. They like to fight for every single benefit. So if they're suddenly giving up members' rights, then they're perhaps giving ground for some future collective bargaining battle."

Go deeper

Massachusetts State Police union sues over governor's vaccine mandate

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. Photo: Amanda Sabga/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

The Massachusetts State Police union has filed a lawsuit to delay Gov. Charlie Baker's (R) coronavirus vaccine mandate, which requires state employees to get the shot by Oct. 17 or face termination.

Why it matters: The union represents 1,800 members and is asking a judge to postpone the vaccination requirement so it has time to bargain, the Boston Globe notes. Troopers would undergo "irreparable harm" otherwise, the lawsuit said.

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

D.C. school employees required to get vaccinated

Photo: Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images

All D.C. school and daycare employees — public, private, and charter — must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 with no option to test out, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced today.

  • Student athletes over the age of 12 will also be required to get vaccinated in order to participate in after-school programs, the mandate says. 
Sep 20, 2021 - Axios Tampa Bay

Gabby Petito's body likely found as police search wilderness for fiancé

The North Port Police Department, FBI, and agency partners search the vast Carlton Reserve for Brian Laundrie. Photo courtesy of North Port Police

As Gabby Petito's family mourns, the search is still on for her fiancé, Brian Laundrie.

What happened: After two days of police and FBI agents scouring Sarasota County for Laundrie, federal agents in Denver announced that a body consistent with the description of 22-year-old Petito was found in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest on Sunday.

  • Police will now go through a full forensic identification to confirm the remains and the cause of death.