New Haven officials: City staffers vaccinated for COVID at higher rate than police

NEW HAVEN — City staff are vaccinated against COVID-10 at a higher rate than Police Department employees, but all have complied with the requirement to agree to get tested if they don’t get vaccinated, officials said.

According to Mayor Justin Elicker, 65 percent of Police Department members had been either partially or fully vaccinated against the coronavirus as of Oct. 13, with the percentage having risen after the city instituted a mandate to either get inoculated or be tested weekly. .

Across city staff, 78 percent of employees have been partially or fully vaccinated, Elicker said.

Every city employee had complied with the mandate by enrolling in the system and choosing one of the two options, he said.

“(I) very much appreciate the team’s effort on that front, in particular the Police Department, because I know that there (were) some challenges in getting that rolling,” said Elicker.

In New Haven, 62.8 percent of the population — all ages — has had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccination as of Oct. 13, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health CT Immunization Registry. The city has outreach programs and clinics to encourage residents to get vaccinated.

The average daily rate of COVID-19 in New Haven was 11.4 percent per 100,000 residents as of Oct. 14, according to the state coronavirus tracker. That data covered Sept. 26 to Oct. 9, according to the state. The data means 82 cases were recorded in the first week of that period and 125 cases recorded in the second week, also according to the state.

Since the city mandate was instituted in September, 84 city employees got at least a first COVID shot, Elicker said.

“That’s an indication that I think the work we have done with this with this vaccine or test mandate is encouraging people to do the right thing,” said Elicker.

In response to a request for comment, Marshall Segar, the regular attorney for the Elm City Local police union, said in a statement that the union had sought the percentages from Elicker ahead of his announcement on vaccines, but had not received them.

“The Union has asked the City for ‘copies’ of the numbers they keep releasing to the press. In fact, our ‘ask’ was to provide us with the numbers before releasing them to the press so that we could effectively comment on vaccine/testing percentages. The City has not supplied the latest figures to us so we are not aware of the percentages the Mayor is referring to,” said Segar. “As to the Mayor’s comments about ‘challenges’ encountered, we will reserve comment at this time.”

Interim Chief Renee Dominguez told the Board of Police Commissioners that 38 department employees had gotten vaccinated since the city’s mandate went into effect, 25 of them sworn police officers.

She also noted that everyone at the department either was vaccinated or getting tested regularly in compliance with the city’s mandate.

Ten communities responded to a recent Hearst Connecticut Media inquiry regarding how many officers at their police department had been vaccinated.

At the time, Milford police were 90 percent vaccinated; Guilford was at 84 percent; Danbury at 80 percent; Ansonia at 76 percent; and Stamford at 59 percent.

In both 2020 and 2021, COVID-19 has been the leading cause of officer fatalities nationwide, ahead of firearm-related and traffic-related deaths, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the Officer Down Memorial Page.

As of Friday, the Officer Down Memorial Page reported 228 officers had died this year of COVID-19, while there have been 356 line of duty deaths as a whole.

Last year, according to the nonprofit organization, there were 374 line of duty deaths, including 245 from COVID-19.

In Connecticut on Friday, the most recent day for which Department of Health data was available, there were 232 patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19; of those 178, or 76.7 percent, were not fully vaccinated.

As of Oct. 14, also according to the state, of the 2,355,502 persons who are fully vaccinated in Connecticut, 0.65 percent have contracted the virus.

william.lambert@hearstmediact.com; reporting from Mary Katherine Wildeman is included in this story