CHICAGO - As Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the police union continue to bump heads over the mayor’s mandated COVID-19 vaccine policy, it is uncertain how many officers will be policing the city this weekend.
Lightfoot has said her vaccination policy is about ensuring a safe work place and saving lives.
"What we’re focused on is making sure that we maximize the opportunity to create a very safe workplace," Lightfoot recently said. "The data is very clear. It is unfortunate that the FOP leadership has chosen to put out a counter narrative. But the fact of the matter is, if you are not vaccinated, you are playing with your life, the life of your family, the life of your colleagues and members of the public."
According to the mayor’s plan, by Friday, Chicago’s 12,000 police officers must get tested twice a week, provide their vaccination status, or be placed in a "no pay" status. But she also said that such a move won’t happen this weekend because confirming compliance will take a few days.
"Nobody is going to be turned away," said police department spokesman Tom Ahern. "Officers will be working their normal shifts this weekend (and) they wont be turned away or sent home... Officers will continue coming to work until they are told otherwise (and) that they are no longer on pay status."
Lightfoot said informing the department of the status is a simple process.
"The information we're requiring employees to provide is very basic. Not intrusive," Lightfoot said Thursday. "It's a simple yes or no. Yes you're vaccinated. No you're not vaccinated. If yes, then you provide you're vaccination information. If no, then you're able to go to a different portal and sign up to say that you will take the weekly testing option. Pretty straight forward."
In a Wednesday night emergency meeting, Chicago police gathered to talk about plans going forward. Catanzara says the city is not bargaining in good faith.
He also said about the Wednesday night meeting that the union members were engaged and in solidarity about standing up to the mandate.
Catanzara has instructed officers to file for exemptions to receiving the vaccine, but to not enter that information into the city’s vaccine portal.
He said that although he has made clear his vaccine status, "I do not believe the city has the authority to mandate that to anybody, let alone that information about your medical history."
Late Thursday afternoon, Catanzara released a video providing an update on the situation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.