2020 was a difficult year for American health care workers.
According to The Washington Post, thanks to the pandemic, as many as 3 in 10 health care workers say they are weighing whether or not to leave the profession entirely, more than half report being “burned out,” and roughly 6 in 10 say that stress has harmed their mental health.
And yet, many of them forged ahead anyway. Throughout the pandemic, many outlets commended such efforts as heroic, especially for workers living in high-risk areas like New York, a state that — according to Statista — has seen the fifth-highest death rate in the entire country.
The days of celebrating such heroism are long over, however, especially in New York state, where many such workers — who trudged through month after month of the pandemic — may soon be out of a job.
At end-of-day Monday, the state enacted its stringent vaccine mandate for health care workers, putting the livelihoods of tens of thousands of such workers in peril.
CBS NEWS: New York officials say 16% of state’s hospital workers not fully vaccinated, thus over 83,000 at risk of termination
— Josh Caplan (@joshdcaplan) September 28, 2021
According to a Tuesday report from CBS News, 16 percent of the state’s hospital workers — roughly 83,000 people — are either unvaccinated or have yet to receive their final dose.
Roughly half of those individuals have yet to receive even one dose, “putting them at risk of termination.”
The timing of the mandate could not be more inconvenient for the state’s hospitals, which already are experiencing understaffing issues as they attempt to tackle a rise in COVID hospitalizations.
In fact, the situation has deteriorated so drastically that Governor Kathy Hochul has considered mobilizing the state’s National Guard to fill the gap left by the thousands of soon-to-be-fired health care workers.
Many health care workers are baffled by the mandate, including Deborah Conrad, a Western New York nurse with almost 20 years of experience.
“I’m wearing the same exact PPE I’ve worn the whole pandemic and it’s always kept myself and patients safe. Why has that changed?” she told CBS News.
When asked if she was “prepared” to lose her job over a refusal to get vaccinated, Conrad confirmed she was.
“A career that I’ve loved for almost 20 years, I am prepared,” she said.
Vaccine mandates in other states — namely California, Delaware, Mississippi and North Carolina, as well as the District of Columbia — are set to go into effect on Thursday (although, unlike in New York, these mandates also allow workers to submit to weekly COVID testing).
Also, in the coming weeks, the Biden administration’s recently announced federal vaccine mandate is expected to go into effect.
This mandate, which is to be enforced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration via an Emergency Temporary Standard, will require all U.S. private companies with 100 or more employees to mandate their workers vaccinate against COVID.
All of these mandates will be putting tens of thousands — if not more — health care workers, workers once commended as heroes for staying committed to their patients throughout the pandemic, out of a job.
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