Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson. File Photo Conor Wilson/Valley Record

Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson. File Photo Conor Wilson/Valley Record

Nearly all Snoqualmie city employees vaccinated

Nearly all Snoqualmie city staff are vaccinated against COVID-19, as the city’s vaccination mandate deadline passed this week.

City staff were required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, or receive a medical or religious exemption, by Oct. 18 as a condition of their employment after Mayor Matt Larson issued a vaccine mandate on Aug. 24. Those who receive an exemption will be subject to twice-weekly testing.

Gail Folkins, a spokesperson for the city, said interim city administrator Mark Correira and the city are still actively negotiating the effects of the mandate with two of the city’s three labor unions. This includes the Snoqualmie Police Association and Teamsters labor union, which represents non-management clerical workers and the non-management public works staff.

“We’re spending quite a bit of time working on [the mandate],” Correira said at the Sept. 27 city council meeting. “We’re negotiating with the labor unions and making good headway with them.”

The city finished its negotiations with the fire department’s labor union, which are now 100% vaccinated, at the Oct. 11 city council meeting, approving a memorandum of understanding between the two sides. Management and professional staff, alongside all City Hall staff, are also 100% vaccinated, with one exemption.

Members of the Teamsters labor union are 91% vaccinated, with one exemption. Folkins said the city is still negotiating with this labor union, but they are nearing the end.

The police labor union is 75% vaccinated, as of Oct. 19. The city said they have had six meetings with the police association, with the last on Oct. 15, but believe they are close to reaching an agreement.

The entire police department is 81% vaccinated, with one accommodation. On Oct. 18, Snoqualmie Police Chief Perry Phipps said he only knew of four of the department’s 26 members who were unvaccinated or had not received an exemption. Folkins said all unvaccinated officers are currently on leave.

In August, just after Larson had issued his vaccine mandate, the Valley Record reported the police department had launched an internal investigation into a memo posted on its Facebook page, bearing the name of its labor union, that pushed COVID-19 conspiracy theories and criticized Larson’s mandate.

The memo claimed that the vaccine was “experimental” and responsible for 13,000 deaths, both of which are untrue. At the time on the memo’s posting, Phipps told the Valley Record, 40% of the police were vaccinated. Phipps said the investigation and interviews into the memo are ongoing.

“Hopefully soon on that one,” Phipps said. “I was trying to get that one done as fast as we could to move on from that.”

As of Oct. 14, nearly 86% of those in zip code 98065, which includes Snoqualmie, were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and almost 91% had received at least one dose.

In the last 30 days, those who were not fully vaccinated were nine times more likely to test positive for COVID-19, 48 times more likely to be hospitalized and 69 times more likely to die compared to those who were vaccinated, according to the King County Department of Health.

“We are hopeful that the unvaccinated staff will get their vaccine to continue employment with the city,” Folkins said.

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