By Taylor DeVille Baltimore Sun | Nov 16, 2021 at 12:59 PM
About one-third of Baltimore County employees have not reported their vaccination status as Monday marked a deadline for the workers to get vaccinated or submit to weekly coronavirus testing.
As of Tuesday, the county says 66% of 9,288 full-time employees have shown proof of at least partial vaccination. That’s little more than the 61% of county employees estimated to have been vaccinated before the mandate was announced in September.
The figure is slightly higher than the county’s vaccination rate — 62% have reported receiving at least one dose, according to state data.
County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. announced the requirement in September — at least one dose of the two-shot Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or mandatory testing — before pushing the deadline back a month to Nov. 15.
County spokesman Sean Naron said 44% of the Police Department’s 2,453 employees reported they’d gotten at least a partial dose. Of the Fire Department’s 1,114 employees, 55% have said they’re vaccinated, Naron said.
“The county is continuing outreach to encourage employees to report their vaccination status,” Naron said in an email.
But the weekly testing hasn’t begun. Naron said employees who have not submitted proof of vaccination will be required to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing beginning Nov. 29, despite the Nov. 15 deadline.
The county is still finalizing testing locations, but they will be conducted inside county buildings by an outside vendor, Naron said.
Dave Rose, president of the Baltimore County Police FOP Lodge 4, said the union is still negotiating with the county to address “unanswered questions,” Rose said, like what happens if an employee refuses testing, how leave time factors in when an individual is made to quarantine, and why only the unvaccinated would be required to submit to testing when a fraction of those who are vaccinated are still contracting COVID-19.
“We gotta make it work for us,” Rose said. “Not only the FOP, but all labor, countywide.”
John Ripley, president of the Baltimore County Federation of Public Employees Local 4883, did not respond to a request for comment.
Vaccinated county employees were asked to report they’d received a vaccine through an online portal or by sharing information directly with the Department of Human Resources, Naron said.
The coronavirus pandemic had killed 1,800 county residents as of Nov. 12.