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City of Portland employees must be vaccinated or face termination

All city of Portland employees must be vaccinated by Oct. 18 or face termination. Religious and medical exemptions that meet legal standards are also valid.

PORTLAND, Ore. — All city of Portland employees must be vaccinated by Oct. 18 or face termination, according to a copy of a letter sent to city employees that was released to media outlets on Monday.

By Sept. 10, employees must show proof of vaccination, proof that they are in the process of getting vaccinated or applying for a medical or religious exemption that meets legal standards. All employees who cannot provide this will be put on a list for “separation from employment” and have until Oct. 10 to complete the vaccine series or the exemption process.

Following the release of a draft of this letter released by The Oregonian/OregonLive just after 12:20 p.m., the letter sent to KGW just after 3:30 p.m. apologizes to city workers who may have found out about the vaccination requirement from a media outlet:

First, we want to acknowledge that a draft of this message was published today by a local media outlet. We apologize and regret that some of you may have heard important news from the media rather than hearing it directly from us. We are committed to sharing announcements with City employees in a timely, transparent and empathetic way.

RELATED: 'We are pleading for your help': Oregon front-line workers reveal grim realities, beg for Oregonians to be vaccinated

For employees who do not meet the Oct. 18 deadline, termination will be effective Oct. 19. The letter also asks all employees to “show respect for your coworkers during this difficult time, including those who feel differently than you do about vaccines or who apply for exceptions.”

The letter goes on:

We are confident that this is the right decision for our workplace and our city. It supports both Oregon’s health care workers and people who need to access medical care for non-COVID reasons. We need our small businesses to stay open, as well as the spaces and events that enrich our community. And we must support our children, who cannot be vaccinated and are especially vulnerable. Nearly 50,000 Portland Public Schools students return to class this week, and we want them to have a safe and healthy school year.

Together, we can help Portland recover and build a better future.

It is signed by Mayor Ted Wheeler and all four city commissioners.

RELATED: Frustration and anger inside an Oregon hospital overwhelmed with COVID patients

An update on information regarding how to file for an exemption, how to file proof of vaccination and more will be sent out Thursday by chief administrative officer Tom Rinehart, according to the letter.

This announcement comes as Oregon continues to be ravaged by the delta variant which is packing hospitals with largely unvaccinated people. Two Oregon counties have requested refrigeration trucks to deal the number of COVID-19 deaths, additional healthcare workers have been brought to the state to try and alleviate hospitals, particularly in Central and Southern Oregon, that are facing full ICUs and staff shortages. 

Oregon saw a record number of 3,200 COVID-19 cases and surpassed 3,000 dead since the beginning of the pandemic. The state is still not at the peak of the pandemic, which is set to hit in the second week of September, according to recent projections.

Healthcare workers are begging Oregonians to get vaccinated to flatten the curve of this recent spike in cases.

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