Half of Stamford city employees report being vaccinated by Sept. 7 deadline — with more in the process

Photo of Verónica Del Valle
Stamford Government Center, 888 Washington Blvd. in Stamford, Conn. on Wed. Oct. 28, 2015.

Stamford Government Center, 888 Washington Blvd. in Stamford, Conn. on Wed. Oct. 28, 2015.

Cathy Zuraw / Hearst Connecticut Media

STAMFORD — On the day Mayor David Martin’s vaccine mandate for city employees went into effect, about half of Government Center staff had received both COVID-19 shots, according to an early count of vaccinated employees from the city. But, more are likely fully vaccinated — their paperwork just has not yet been processed.

The mayor announced in early August that he would require shots or a weekly COVID-19 test for city personnel by Tuesday in response to the delta variant’s prevalence.

However, the mandate’s reach falls short of covering everyone who works in the Government Center. Martin’s rule does not cover agencies or third parties that lease out space from the Government Center, including employees at the Stamford Senior Center, though those agencies may have their own vaccine mandates.

Though mandated by a separate entity, the Board of Education, employees at Stamford Public Schools are also required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or undergo weekly testing.

About 1,990 people work at the Government Center, and 1,000 employees submitted proof that they are fully inoculated. Another six documented that they have a single dose, according to Director of Human Resources Al Cava. To comply with the protocols laid out by Martin in August, the city would have to test approximately 984 employees every week.

However, that figure is likely incomplete, according to mayoral spokesperson Rachel LaBella.

“It remains crucial to realize that this number does not represent the total number of City employees that are vaccinated,” she said Thursday in an email. “This number accounts for the number of employees that have completed the documentation indicating they are fully vaccinated with HR as of Tuesday. Out of the remaining employees, many of these individuals are, in fact, fully vaccinated and simply have not yet had their vaccination status documented.”

LaBella maintains that the number will continue to rise in the coming days and weeks, since “the documentation process for 1900 employees (many of who work nights and weekends) is time consuming.”

On top of the vaccine card collection process, the city is also working to establish a testing program for city employees who opt out of vaccination, though the exact details have yet to materialize.

“Although Mayor Martin’s original vaccine mandate still stands, the city is currently working on nailing down the logistics behind the weekly COVID testing alternative,” LaBella said.

“In light of many municipalities in our area, the state, as well as many local private businesses currently requiring vaccines and/or periodic testing, the whole process has become a little more complex, so as a result the city will defer the effective date of the testing requirement to the week of Sept. 13,” she continued.

Stamford was likely the first municipality in Connecticut to mandate full vaccination among all its employees as a response to the delta variant’s rapid fire spread across the nation. Government Center staff who decline to get vaccinated must submit a weekly negative COVID-19 test starting next week.

Employees were also permitted to request an exemption from the vaccine requirement for either medical or religious reasons from the city’s human resources department by Aug. 20.

But effectively testing nearly 1,000 people presents another hurdle for the Government Center. Employees can choose between getting tested by the city weekly or proving their own negative PCR tests to the mayoral administration.

“We are in the process of putting together an employee testing program with one or more vendors,” special mayoral assistant Laura Burwick wrote in an email. “There is no contract at this time, but we anticipate entering into contract(s) with vendors to provide this service.”

veronica.delvalle@hearstmediact.com