The City of Tucson is planning for a future without some of its current workers, as the city's COVID-19 vaccine deadline approaches.
The city council set a deadline for its 4,000 employees: Get vaccinated or an exemption by December 1, or else look for another job.
City manager Michael Ortega updated the council on the progress of that mandate Tuesday.
He says even though the deadline is three weeks away, it's already affecting the city's workforce.
"There are areas that are already struggling, and how do we continue to shore them up? And so it is challenging how we do business, and how we deliver some of those services which may not be in exactly the same way as we've always done," Ortega said.
As things stand now, 179 employees are not fully vaccinated and have no exemptions. That number includes 85 police officers or firefighters, Ortega said.
Ortega says the number of non-compliant employees keeps dropping every day.
But the city is also stepping up its recruiting efforts to have a pool of applicants ready in case dozens of city workers need to be replaced come December 1, when the mandate goes into effect.
"I'm really looking at that across-the-board and in many other areas — IT, environmental services, some of our hard-to-fill positions. Let's make sure they have the steady stream of folks so as attrition occurs, we're able to fill those positions," Ortega said.
The city plans a vaccination clinic on November 30 for those waiting until the last minute.