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A New Orleans eviction court has a particularly bleak justification for a new requirement that its constables get vaccinated: the sheer number of people it’s about to evict.
Edwin Shorty, the constable of the New Orleans Second City Court, is requiring all full-time and reserve deputies to be vaccinated by August 16, according to local news station WDSU. The reason, Shorty told WDSU, is that the number of evictions is expected to increase dramatically, due to the end of the CDC’s eviction moratorium and the failure of Congress and the Biden administration to extend it.
On the first Monday after the eviction moratorium’s expiration on July 31, the First City Court received nearly 60 eviction filings, while Shorty’s jurisdiction received four, according to NOLA.com. All First City Court deputies are vaccinated and new hires will be required to get vaccinated as well, WDSU reported.
On Tuesday, New York City became the first major city in the United States to introduce a vaccine requirement for entering public spaces such as restaurants, bars, gyms, and music venues. Though vaccine passports aren’t in widespread use in the United States, in recent weeks the state of California and a number of local governments have begun to require public employees to be vaccinated. Healthcare workers at the Department of Veterans Affairs are required to be vaccinated as well.
The eviction moratorium, which had been in place since last September and protected millions of people from being evicted during the pandemic, was allowed to expire on July 31 after the Biden administration said a June Supreme Court decision prevented the CDC from further extending it. In Orleans Parish, nearly 20 percent of all renting households owe back rent, a New York Times analysis found last week.
After a round of backlash, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden asked the CDC on Sunday to reinstate the eviction moratorium for counties with high or substantial spread of COVID-19. But the CDC said Monday it did not have the legal authority to do so—even though the Delta variant of COVID-19 has driven a massive surge in cases.
Louisiana is currently the epicenter of the pandemic, with an average of 99 cases a day out of every 100,000 people, according to the New York Times—nearly a quarter more than Florida, the second-worst state. Just 37 percent of Louisianans are fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in the country.
The Democratic-controlled Congress is now officially on vacation for the August recess. A group of progressive Democrats led by Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, who introduced an “Unhoused Bill of Rights” last week and is herself a formerly unhoused person, has slept outside of the Capitol since the expiration of the moratorium.
“I’m out here until change happens… when change happens, we can go home,” Bush told Democracy Now! Monday. “One thing that we cannot do is we cannot say, ‘Well, we did all that we could do,’ and not apply the pressure needed to make sure that people are not forced out of their homes. That’s just our work.”