TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum announced on Monday city employees who have at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot or have gotten exempted from receiving are eligible for hazard pay if they contract COVID-19.
Unvaccinated employees are NOT eligible for this if they get COVID-19. In an email to employees Bynum said Tulsa area hospitals had a 10% increase in patients since June. Local health experts say the more contagious Delta Variant is the cause and urge people to get vaccinated.
Since the beginning of the year, 27% of all people hospitalized in Tulsa were patients with COVID-19. By June, it was down to just 1%. Over the past two weeks, hospitalizations have gone up to 10.2% of COVID patients. Hospital administrators told 2 News Oklahoma nearly all of them are not vaccinated.
Bynum's full statement:
In operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 123 years, I do not think the City of Tulsa has ever had to face as many major challenges in a 2-year period of time as our team has since 2019. I brag on our team every chance I get, because you have set a standard for true public service.
Part of our success in continuing to serve the citizens of Tulsa through floods, tornados, a pandemic, a recession, a budget crisis, a polar vortex, the deaths of team members, and a cyber attack has been that we’ve adjusted to new realities as they’ve arrived. We’ve been flexible. We haven’t spent a lot of time sitting around and moaning about things we don’t control.
In early January, 27% of all people hospitalized in Tulsa were COVID patients. In June, it was down to 1%. Pretty remarkable progress. But since then, those numbers have started to rise. On July 7, it was 4.5%. A week ago today, it was 10.2%. Last Friday, it was 11.6%. Over the last few weeks, about 90% of the people hospitalized in Tulsa with COVID were not vaccinated.
I’m writing today out of concern for our team. I’m not going to preach to you about vaccinations. You’re adults and can make your own decisions. I know thoughtful people who haven’t been vaccinated because they’re worried about side effects or want to see how things go for those who have received it for a longer period of time before getting it themselves. Each of us has to weigh risks based on our own health and situation when making health care decisions.
But as we see these rates climb, I am mindful that we are less prepared today to handle another pandemic wave than we were in 2020. We have fewer members of our team, and we have reduced virtual meeting capabilities.
So, my request of you today is a simple one: if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, please visit with your doctor about it. Don’t take my word for it - though I’ve been fully vaccinated and enjoy the freedom that comes with knowing I have increased immunity because of it. If you have a doctor you trust with your health, who knows your health background, then there’s nobody better positioned to advise you than them.
I do want to remind you that we still have policies in place to slow the spread of the virus in City facilities. If you haven’t been fully vaccinated, you are required to wear a mask in City facilities, worksites, or vehicles when in the physical presence of others. Work travel is only authorized for those who are fully vaccinated.
Starting two weeks from today – August 9 - only those who have had at least one immunization shot or have received an exemption from the City Physician will be eligible for hazard leave if they contract COVID. Starting September 1, only those who have been fully vaccinated or received an exemption from the City Physician will be eligible for hazard leave if they contract COVID. To receive hazard leave, you will need to present your immunization card to City Medical or receive an exemption from the City Physician.
These policies are in place to protect the members of our team and its ability to continue serving the citizens who rely on us. I have attached a copy of our Infectious Disease Policy that includes the above for your reference.
If you don’t have a doctor and want to talk with someone in City Medical about any concerns you have regarding the COVID vaccine, the number is (918) 596-1207. If you want to get a free vaccination, most pharmacy providers now offer it or you can visit www.vaccinate918.com [gcc02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com]. You can receive up two paid hours for time taken to receive vaccinations.
The new policy goes into effect August 9th.
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