New York’s Democratic governor, Kathy Hochul stuck to her guns by declaring that rehiring unvaccinated health care workers is not the “right answer” despite the fact that vaccination mandates have been overturned and the state is suffering from a severe shortage of health care workers.
“I don’t think the answer is to expose someone who comes in who is sick someone who can give them COVID-19. I don’t know if that’s the right answer, but I’m sure it’s not. So we’re exploring our options.” the New York governor said Tuesday after being asked about the return of unvaccinated health care workers. “But I think everyone who goes into a health care facility or a nursing home they should have safety and family members should know that we have taken all the steps to protect public health. And that includes making sure that those who come into contact with them at their most vulnerable time, when they are sick or elderly, will not pass on the virus.”
The reporter pulled back, asking Hochul if there were other precautions, such as wearing a mask, to allow unvaccinated health care workers return to hospitals.
“I can’t put people at risk because when you go into a health care facility, you expect that you’re not going to come out sicker than you went in. I think that’s something that every New Yorker would expect.” replied the governor.
In a letter dated January 19a group of ten lawmakers expressed concern to Governor Hochul about severe staff shortages that they say have worsened since the mandate.
“Decades of health care experience are being sidelined or pushed to other states as a result of the mandate.” write Republican lawmakers in the joint letter. “This is even more important given that the director of the US Centers for Disease Control has publicly stated that the vaccine cannot prevent transmission.”
Lawmakers wrote the letter days after a state Supreme Court judge struck down the mandate on Jan. 13, calling it “null, void and of no effect.”
In his ruling, Judge Gerard Neri said the governor and the New York State Department of Health exceeded their authority by making the request permanent because the vaccine against COVID-19 is not included in the state’s public health law.
“The mandate is beyond the scope of the respondents’ authority and is therefore null, void and without effect,” Judge Neri concluded.
After the decision, the state health department said Saturday that it is “exploring its options” after the ruling.
As of September 27, 2021, the state has required health care workers throughout New York to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be terminated. In the wake of the mandate, thousands of healthcare workers in nursing homes, hospitals and other healthcare providers have been fired, laid off or forced to resign because they would not comply with the mandate creating a void in the industry.
New York Health Care System is in desperate need of staff, with reports of ambulances waiting for hours at local emergency rooms to discharge patients.