New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed an executive order Monday night as the hours dwindled before her vaccine mandate for health care workers went into effect.
“We’ll be nation-leading with our mandate which strikes at midnight tonight, when everyone is expected in a hospital in the state of New York or health care facility to have been vaccinated,” Hochul said earlier that morning at a news conference where she helped launch a community COVID-19 booster site in New York City.
In her remarks, Hochul was referring to the Aug. 15 New York State Department of Health order mandating that all health care workers in the state receive at least their first shot against COVID-19 by Monday, Sept. 27.
New York is the first state in the nation to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for health care workers, according to The Hill.
“We were hit the first, we were hit the hardest, and I want to be the first to say, ‘we’re over this,'” Hochul said.
Hochul went on to say at the news conference that she would be signing an executive order later that night to “give me the emergency powers necessary to address these shortages where they occur.”
She described what those powers would allow her to do. “Deploy the National Guard who are medically trained, deploy people who’ve been retired or who may have had a license lapse, bring in people from elsewhere.”
Hochul implied that she was forced to take these emergency measures because of the potential shortages that the state would face due to the numbers of health care workers who refused vaccination.
“That is not my first position though, my friends,” she said. “My desire is to have the people who have been out there continue to work in their jobs, work in them safely, and to all the other health care workers who are vaccinated, they also deserve to know that the people they’re working with will not get them sick.”
After signing the order, Hochul went to social media, describing her emergency executive order as a “bold action” to keep “all New Yorkers healthy and safe.”
Tonight I signed an executive order to take bold action to alleviate potential health care staffing shortages following our vaccine mandate that keeps all New Yorkers healthy and safe. pic.twitter.com/dIAGl0DH5z
— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) September 28, 2021
According to a Monday night statement on her website, the executive order “includes a series of provisions” such as the authorization of out-of-state health care workers to practice in New York, the implementation of a 24/7 operations center to monitor and troubleshoot staffing shortages throughout the state, and the allowance of recent graduates who are not yet registered or professionals without current registrations to practice without penalty among many other measures.
“The only way we can move past this pandemic is to ensure that everyone eligible is vaccinated, and that includes those who are taking care of our vulnerable family members and loved ones,” Hochul said in the statement.
The threat of termination or forced resignation inspired thousands of New Yorkers who work in the health care industry to get the jab as the Sept. 27 deadline approached.
According to Business Insider, the New York Department of Labor warned that those health care workers who are “fired for failing to comply with a new state law will not be able to collect unemployment benefits unless they present a doctor-approved request” for medical exemption.
A subsequent statement on Hochul’s website, dated the afternoon of Tuesday, Sept. 28, has the most recent vaccination numbers. As of Monday evening, when the governor signed her latest emergency executive order, the percentages of New York health care workers who received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine has increased significantly.
Nursing home staff who got one dose went from 71 percent on Aug. 24 (when Hochul was sworn in as New York’s first female governor) to 92 percent on Monday evening and adult care facilities staff went from 77 percent to 89 percent during the same timeframe.
Hospital staff who are fully vaccinated went from 77 percent on Hochul’s first day of office to 85 percent on Monday evening.
Finally, a grand total of 92 percent of all hospital staff state-wide have submitted to at least one dose by the time Hochul signed her emergency executive order, the statement announced.
Hochul went to Twitter Monday night to commended all New York health care workers who stepped up to get themselves vaccinated.
To all of our health care workers who’ve been vaccinated – I thank you for stepping up to keep New Yorkers safe & healthy. https://t.co/vnTwuSTxmH
— Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) September 27, 2021
In her news conference on Monday morning, Hochul spoke of her priority to “stop this virus dead in its tracks. We are over it, we are done, we want to move on.”
Everything she is doing, she said, is to achieve her number one job as governor of New York — keeping people safe.
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