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Phoenix holds off on vaccine mandate for city workers

The city announced Tuesday it was temporarily delaying a mandate that required employees to show proof of vaccination.

PHOENIX — The city of Phoenix announced Tuesday it was temporarily blocking a vaccine mandate it had planned to implement for all city employees. 

Phoenix's workers were expected to show proof of vaccination by Jan. 18 or risk discipline or possible termination. 

 A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the White House from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees of federal contractors, the latest in a string of victories for Republican-led states pushing back against Biden’s pandemic policies.

U.S. District Judge R. Stan Baker, in Augusta, Georgia, issued a stay to bar enforcement of the mandate nationwide.

Biden issued an executive order on Sept. 9 requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to comply with workplace safety guidelines developed by a federal task force.  

City officials previously said because Phoenix has a large number of federal contracts, the city had to implement a vaccine mandate in order to comply with federal guidelines.  

City Manager Jeff Barton said it's not clear yet how the federal government would respond if Phoenix chose to not follow the mandate for federal contractors.

"We don't really know what the penalties are," Barton said.

About 51% of the city's 14,000 employers have already gotten the vaccine and 49% have not. At least 24 workers have died from COVID-related illnesses since the pandemic began, according to city officials. 

The Phoenix City Council met Tuesday afternoon to discuss the proposed mandate but did not make any policy decisions. Some council members signaled their support for a mandate, while others felt employees should be allowed to decide whether to get the shot.

RELATED: Vaccine mandate for federal contractors blocked nationwide by judge

RELATED: Phoenix firefighters' high rate of COVID illnesses puts strain on services, overtime spending

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