RICHMOND, Va. -- More than 2,200 of the City of Richmond's roughly 3,600 employees are either partially or fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to numbers released by city officials on Tuesday. Richmond employees had an August 18 deadline to get vaccinated or submit a religious or medical exemption waiver.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced Tuesday that 85-percent (about 3,060) of the roughly 3,600 workers who are covered by the city vaccine mandate responded to his August 18 deadline.
"That means they told us about their vaccination status -- whether partially or fully vaccinated -- or they filed an exemption -- religious or medical," Mayor Stoney said.
Three hundred employees requested religious or medical exemptions, according to Stoney. The rest, roughly 2,295 employees, responded that they were either fully or partially vaccinated. More than 500 city workers either didn't respond or had issues with their submission.
Mayor Stoney said he was pleased with the number of city workers who have been vaccinated. He said he expected the vaccination rate to more closely mirror that of the city which has 58-percent of adults with at least one dose.
"I was proven wrong by our employees," Stoney said. "Sixty-seven percent fully vaccinated. 75% have at least received one shot. That is amazing."
Unvaccinated city workers, without an exemption, now have a grace period until September 1 to respond.
"Those who are not in compliance by September 1 -- by submitting either your exemption paperwork or your vaccinations status -- will be placed on leave without pay in very short order," Acting Chief of Staff for the City of Richmond Lincoln Saunders said. "Progressive discipline will continue from there if they're not able to achieve compliance after that."
"Ultimately, if you refuse to participate in this vaccination program, then you could it could lead to termination," Stoney added.
Earlier this week the President of the Richmond Coalition of Police (RCOP), an organization that represents more than 300 Richmond Police officers, sergeants, and lieutenants, said the organization not only supported COVID-19 vaccines but also the city-wide mandate.
"We've encouraged members to get vaccinated, and if they choose to do the exemptions, that we also support," RCOP President Brendan Leavy said. "We're not against the mandate. We're not against the vaccine."
Leavy said some officers had concerns about "the administrative side of things concerning the vaccine."
"Officers that have been vaccinated and that had submitted their vaccination cards correctly into the city websites have received emails that they have not actually done so. This is worrisome," he said. "Officers have also reached out with concerns that they do not want to share their personal medical information on the city servers."
A spokesperson for Mayor Stoney responded to those concerns by saying all city employees were provided with notification of the policy as well as FAQs and information on how the process works to ensure consistency and equity.
"There should be no confusion as to how this works or need to apply a different set of rules," spokesperson Jim Nolan wrote in an email.