LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Hundreds of Los Angeles city employees could soon be on unpaid leave for not getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday said 77 city employees are already on that list, and an additional 700 employees could be added within the next two weeks.
"The good news is, overwhelmingly city employees have gotten vaccinated ... and I want to be clear the vaccine mandate is not about getting rid of employees. My goal is to keep every employee and to keep every employee safe," he said.
A city mandate requires that all municipal employees get vaccinated by Dec. 18 or have an approved exemption, which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
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Until then, unvaccinated employees have to submit to two COVID-19 tests per week, and $65 per test will be deducted from their paychecks.
Employees have to get tested during their free time, and testing has to be conducted by the city or a vendor of the city's choosing. Third-party tests will not be allowed.
Garcetti said department heads, including the chiefs of the fire and police departments, have put together plans to ensure coverage when employees are on leave.
"It may cost us some money up front but it has cost us a lot of money to lose people to COVID when they're out. That has cost us arguably even more," Garcetti said.
City News Service contributed to this report.