New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) visited Rochester last week and spoke to the press about the upcoming vaccine mandate deadline for healthcare workers, indicating that the state would be “replacing” healthcare staff who do not get vaccinated.
Hochul’s comments: Speaking at a Rochester, New York hospital, Hochul appeared determined to enforce the state’s vaccine mandate by firing unvaccinated employees and “replacing people.”
“To all the healthcare providers, doctors, and nurses in particular who are vaccinated, I say thank you, because you are keeping true to your oath,” stated Hochul. “To those who won’t, we will be replacing people.”
Hochul went on to outline what she plans to do in the event of a staffing shortage.
“We are sending out a call state-wide,” she said. “There are facilities, for example in New York City, where they have 98% of their staff are vaccinated, they don’t have a staffing shortage. We are working closely with various hospital systems to find out where we can get in other individuals to come in and supplement places like nursing homes.”
How we got here: On August 16, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, which requires that healthcare staff receive at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine by the deadline of September 27.
Earlier this month, a federal court issued a temporary restraining order on the healthcare vaccine mandate as it applies to religious exemptions, ceding to arguments from lawyers for healthcare employees that failing to include such an exemption renders the mandate unconstitutional.
On September 22, just ahead of the deadline to respond to the restraining order, the New York State Attorney General’s Office submitted their response, arguing that there was no precedent to require a religious exemption for vaccine mandates pertaining to healthcare workers.
While the court considers the State’s arguments and determines what to do next, Hochul’s remarks indicate that New York plans to move ahead with enforcing the vaccine mandate against healthcare workers who do not plan to claim a religious exemption.
Worth noting: On Saturday, Hochul released a statement announcing a comprehensive plan to address potential staffing shortages in the healthcare industry as a result of Monday’s vaccination deadline.
In that plan, the governor laid out the ways in which she will meet the staffing shortage, including declaring a state of emergency; inviting out-of-state healthcare workers to work in New York facilities; and deploying medically-trained members of the National Guard.
In a statement that accompanied the governor’s announcement, Hochul wrote: “We are still in a battle against COVID to protect our loved ones, and we need to fight with every tool at our disposal. I am monitoring the staffing situation closely, and we have a plan to increase our health care workforce and help alleviate the burdens on our hospitals and other health care facilities. I commend all of the health care workers who have stepped up to get themselves vaccinated, and I urge all remaining health care workers who are unvaccinated to do so now so they can continue providing care.”
Scroll down to leave a comment and share your thoughts.