Gov. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y. signed an executive order on Monday directing medically trained National Guard troops to replace fired or suspended health care workers employed at the state’s hospitals who have chosen not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The state of New York, which has a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place, has required all doctors, nurses and other health care workers in New York to show proof that they have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by the deadline which was midnight on Monday.
Along with the National Guard, the governor’s executive order allows retired medical professionals and out-of-state health care workers to fill in the employment gaps caused by the shortage.
“We’re taking all the steps preemptively in anticipation of what I call a preventable staffing shortage,” Hochul said during a press conference. “I don’t have to do this if people will get vaccinated, there’s plenty of hours left in the day, but I also know I need to be prepared.”
According to Hochul, vaccination rates have been very high at downstate health facilities, coming in at around 98-99 percent, but numbers remain lower in upstate New York due to what she described as a “different philosophy.”
“We have a different dynamic in some parts of upstate,” said the governor. “There there are other reasons why people are not being vaccinated, it’s not the access, it’s a different philosophy is all I’ll say. And those are the areas we’ve been focusing our attention on, because those are the ones I don’t know that people are going to change their mind in the final hours.”
According to Hochul, by Monday evening, 92 percent of nursing home staff, 89 percent of adult care facility staff, and 92 percent of hospital staff received at least one vaccine.
“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,” said the governor. “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.”
On Monday, Hochul attempted to guilt unvaccinated health care workers into taking the shot, saying they would end up burdening their colleagues if they continued to refuse it. “This is so unnecessary and I just want to appeal to the individuals to know that your co-workers want you to do this. Don’t make the burden heavier on them as well.”