Health Care Workers in New York Must Get Vaccinated, Cuomo Says – The New York Times

Health Care Workers In New York Must Get Vaccinated Cuomo Says The New York Times
Health Care Workers In New York Must Get Vaccinated Cuomo Says The New York Times

Issuing a major directive in his last weeks in office, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said Monday that all health care workers in the state, including staff at all hospitals, nursing homes, adult care, and other congregate care settings, must have gotten at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by Sept. 27.

The state health department, Mr. Cuomo said in a news release, will issue special orders intended to prevent a “danger to the health of the people” in order to compel all hospital and nursing home employees to get vaccinated, with limited exceptions for those with religious or medical reasons. He cited the trajectory of the Delta variant across the state and said “we must now act again to stop the spread.”

To date, 75 percent of the state’s roughly 450,000 hospital workers, 74 percent of the state’s 30,000 adult care facility workers and 68 percent of the state’s 145,500 nursing home workers have been fully vaccinated, the state said.

The mandate will apply to all hospitals, nursing homes, and adult care facilities, public and private. Unlike state workers, who have the option of being tested weekly instead of getting vaccinated, private hospital and nursing home workers will no longer have the testing option, said Rich Azzopardi, senior adviser to the governor.

“We are interested in stopping Delta in its tracks, especially in the places where the most vulnerable are at risk,” Mr. Azzopardi said.

Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration, the release said, was briefed before the announcement.

Mr. Cuomo resigned last Tuesday in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal, but he said he would remain in office for two more weeks. No news conference on the new mandates was planned, according to Mr. Azzopardi.

The Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents 140 hospitals and health systems across the state, expressed support for the decision, citing how Covid hospitalizations have jumped in the last month.

“This is a critical moment requiring bold action,” said Kenneth E. Raske, the president of the association, in a statement.

The governor also hinted that a state vaccine requirement for businesses and teachers may be in the works.

“I have strongly urged private businesses to implement vaccinated-only admission policies, and school districts to mandate vaccinations for teachers,” he said in the release. “Neither will occur without the state legally mandating the actions — private businesses will not enforce a vaccine mandate unless it’s the law, and local school districts will be hesitant to make these challenging decisions without legal direction.”

These steps follow Mr. Cuomo’s recent announcements that Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Port Authority employees working in New York facilities, as well as all other state employees, will be required to be vaccinated or tested weekly by Labor Day. Patient-facing employees in state-run hospitals will be required to get vaccinated, and not have a test-out option.

As cases have jumped across the United States, private companies and several governments have introduced more vaccination rules for workers. California and Washington State recently announced vaccine mandates for health care workers in their states.

Separately, the state also authorized a third dose of coronavirus vaccine for immuno-compromised residents, following the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

“This mandate will both help close the vaccination gap and reduce the spread of the Delta variant,” the state health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, said in the release. “I want to thank all New York State’s health care workers for stepping up once again and showing our state that getting vaccinated is safe, easy, and most importantly, effective.”