Vax mandates raise concerns over police shortages

(CNN) Health officials say COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all trending down, thanks in part to an increase in vaccinations. But Doctor Anthony Fauci warns that more Americans must get vaccinated to maintain this trajectory and prevent a future spike.

Meanwhile, police departments across the country are bracing for potential staffing shortages as some unions push back against city vaccine mandates.

The battle over life-saving vaccine mandates are now pitting cities across the country against their own police departments.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, “This notion that individual officers get to be insubordinate as they choose? We’re not having that.”

Chicago is limiting time off for all officers as a vaccine mandate takes effect while warning officers who fail to share their vaccine status could ultimately be fired.

Baltimore’s police union is telling officers not to reveal their vaccine status, citing a lack of communication between city officials and the bargaining unit, according to the Baltimore Sun.

National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins said, “This is not a good thing to mix up a public health crisis and a vaccine that can save lives amongst things like bargaining power, this is the wrong hill to die on.”

Concerns over staffing shortages in the face of mandates are mounting.

Seattle’s police department had an 82% vaccination rate last Friday, three days before the deadline.  The city’s public schools canceled about 140 bus routes, fearing too few vaccinated drivers.

Massachusetts moved preemptively to offset possible staffing shortages among state troopers by calling up its National Guard to assist in prisons if needed and to administer COVID tests to kids in schools. As of, deadline day the governor’s office says 90 percent of state police have submitted their vaccine records.

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “I am not comfortable with telling people what they should do on the normal circumstances, but we are not a normal circumstances right now. Take the police, we know now the statistics, more police officers die of COVID and they do of other causes of death. So it does not make any sense.”

The rush of mandates now targeting some of the 66 million Americans choosing not to get the shot just as the country crosses marks a vaccination milestone. Two-thirds of all eligible people are now fully vaccinated.

COVID-related deaths are trending down, cases and hospitalizations falling to nearly three-month lows. But health officials are still expressing concerns over the danger of failing to vaccinate more people.

Dr. Fauci said, “There’s always the danger that there will be enough circulating virus that you can have a stalling of the diminishing of the number of cases and when that happens, as we have seen in the past with other waves that we’ve been through, there’s the danger of resurgence.”

The latest warning comes as new signs emerge of a different version of the Delta variant, it’s been seen in the UK.

Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb is calling for urgent research.

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