NEW YORK (AP) — Some of the nation’s most aggressive COVID-19 vaccine mandates are set to go into effect Monday in New York, amid resistance to some shots, except in hospitals and nursing homes and schools in New York City across the state. for potential staff shortages.
Many health care workers, including support staff such as cleaners, have not yet received the necessary first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine before the September 27 deadline. That’s the deadline for teachers and school staff in New York City to prove they’ve had at least one shot.
That left the prospect of potentially laying off thousands of health care workers and teachers from their jobs next week.
Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio showed no signs of backing down, despite calls from unions and administrators to delay the mandate.
“Everyone who is in your care has a right to know that there is no chance of anyone getting infected from someone who is protecting them and their health,” the Democrat’s Hochul said on Thursday.
Hospitals and nursing homes were preparing contingency plans that included cutting back on elective surgeries and stopping maternity services in a hospital. Nursing homes were limiting admissions. The state’s largest health care provider, Northwell Health, was keeping thousands of volunteers on standby.
Tom Quattroche said, “We would like to see some more time to be able to follow through and implement the vaccine mandate, because at the end of the day this is a situation where we are very concerned about our ability to care for patients. are worried.” CEO of Erie County Medical Center Corporation, which operates a busy 573-bed hospital in Buffalo.
It estimates that about 10% of its workforce, or 400 staff members, may still be uninsured on Monday. As part of a contingency plan, the hospital said it would suspend elective inpatient surgery, temporarily stop accepting ICU transfers from other institutions and reduce hours in clinics.
New York is not the only state that requires health care workers to be vaccinated. But it has been particularly aggressive in pushing for widespread vaccination to help limit the spread of the virus.
The mayor and governor said activists have plenty of time to take shots. A mandate for the state’s health care workers was announced this summer. New York City announced in July that its teachers would either be vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 weekly, but then canceled the test-out option in August.
While most school workers have been vaccinated, prompting about 90% of teachers as of Thursday, unions representing New York City’s principals and teachers warned that there were still 1 million students leaving the school system short of 10,000 teachers. – Can lay off other employees as well. As cafeteria worker and school police officer.
Those who do not provide proof of a shot by the end of Monday will not be allowed to return to classes on Tuesday, which will leave principals overnight to make sure they have enough options, teachers warned.
Unions said Tuesday that while they have encouraged everyone to get vaccinated, some schools could have an alarmingly low workforce on Tuesday. He pleaded with the mayor to delay the mandate after a judge refused to stop the rule.
“We care about you. Very, very concerned,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.
Mark Cannizzaro, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, said some schools have more than 100 staff members who are not complying.
De Blasio insists the city is ready.
“We are planning all along. We have a lot of options ready,” the Democrat said in a radio interview on Friday. “A lot is going to happen between now and Monday, but beyond that, we are ready, here Even if we need thousands, we have thousands.”
The mandate for health care workers comes as hospitals already grapple with staff shortages due to rising demand, workers retiring and exhausted workers looking for other jobs 18 months after the pandemic.
There is one option for health care workers who do not want to get the shot, which is to apply for a religious exemption. He will purchase them until at least October 12, while a federal judge considering the legal challenge argues that such exemptions are constitutionally required.
Meanwhile, a state judge in Albany agreed to set a Monday deadline for court staff to receive the first vaccine shots and will next week hear a debate on whether to extend the stay. The CSEA, which represents 5,800 workers, argued that the mandate should have been negotiated and not enforced unilaterally by the court system.
Earlier, another judge dismissed a last-minute effort Friday by seven health care workers and Republican Niagara County legislator John Syracuse to delay the health care mandate.
By sticking to health care orders over time, Northwell Health was trying to persuade thousands of holdouts for vaccinations, including in-person meetings with staff. The system’s chief of personnel, Maxine Carrington, said they are seeing a lot more appointments being scheduled.
“I’ve had personal conversations with team members, and one of me asked: ‘Are you sure you’re going to fire us on the 27th?’ And I said, let’s put this aside for a minute and talk about saving our lives. Why don’t you want to get vaccinated?” Carrington said.
She said workers who refuse vaccination “will no longer be eligible for employment.”
As of Thursday, about 90% of Northwell’s 74,000 active personnel had been vaccinated. Still, the hospital system acknowledged it did not expect full compliance and that more than 3,000 retirees, volunteers and health care students were on standby, should they be needed.
The University of Rochester Medical Center, the state’s fourth largest city, announced a two-week pause in prescribing new elective procedures at its Strong Memorial Hospital beginning Monday. It is temporarily closing two urgent care centers.
A wild card No one knows if an explosion of health care workers will just wait until the last minute to get a jab.
A sign of hope: New York-Presbyterian, one of the state’s largest hospital systems, imposed an earlier vaccination deadline on its employees at midnight Wednesday and reported that 48,000 of its employees Less than 250 employees had failed to comply.
Spokesperson Alexandra Langen said in an email: “Those who chose not to comply will not continue to work at NYP.”
New York state has averaged 5,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, with nearly 2,300 people hospitalized. This is far worse than at the end of June, when around 300 people were testing positive every day across the state.
Hill reported from Albany. Associated Press writer Marina Villeneuve in Albany contributed to this report.