Hospitals across the nation have struggled to keep up with the delta variant of COVID-19.
Exacerbating this crisis is the fact that many such hospitals remain understaffed.
Despite this, state vaccine mandates are further crippling hospitals by forcing them to fire unvaccinated workers.
One of the states hit hardest by such rules is New York, where The New York Times has reported there may soon be “mass firings” of “thousands of health care workers” who have chosen to remain unvaccinated.
Health care workers in the state have until the end of day Monday to receive their first dose or face termination or unpaid leave.
This is all happening despite the fact that understaffing issues are currently plaguing hospitals overrun with COVID cases across the country, according to a USA Today fact check published Friday.
“After 18 months of this pandemic, our providers are burned out. Many are leaving the profession because it is impacting their mental and physical health,” Carri Chan, faculty director for Columbia University’s Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Management Program, told USA Today.
“Demand for hospital care due to COVID-19 patients has grown substantially in the last few months and, unfortunately, appears to continue to increase in a number of states.”
This problem is not isolated to New York, however.
As USA Today reported, the health care worker shortage problem is a nationwide one, and many other states, including California, Delaware, Mississippi and North Carolina, as well as the District of Columbia, are set to implement their own vaccine mandates on Thursday (although, unlike in New York, these states will allow for “vaccination or testing”), according to a report from Leading Age.
In total, 20 states have implemented or will implement some sort of vaccine requirement upon their health care workers.
In addition to state mandates, the Biden administration’s own federal vaccine mandate, announced Sept. 9, will soon be implemented “in a matter of weeks,” The News and Advance of Lynchburg, Virginia, reported.
The mandate, which will be enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration via an Emergency Temporary Standard, will mandate all companies with 100 or more employees require their employees to be vaccinated or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing on an indefinite basis. Failure to comply will result in fines of $14,000 per infraction.
The Biden administration is also developing a rule that would require all workers at health care facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid to be fully vaccinated. This would include roughly 17 million medical workers, according to WIBW-TV.
And yet many health care workers across the country are still unvaccinated.
A June report from Web MD found that “1 in 4 hospital workers who have direct contact with patients” had not received a dose of the vaccine by the end of May.
A more recent study conducted by researchers from Harvard and Rutgers University, among others, polled health care workers from June 9 to July 7 and found that as many as 27 percent remained unvaccinated and 15 percent said they “would not get the COVID-19 vaccine.”
The loss of such a large share of workers, while hospitals struggle to keep up with incoming COVID hospitalizations, could be devastating.
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