ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo is mandating all healthcare workers across the state get vaccinated against COVID.
All employees at public and privately-run hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities in New York must get at least their first shot by Sept. 27 as hospitalizations rise and the highly contagious delta variant continues to spread, the outgoing governor announced Monday.
“Our healthcare heroes led the battle against the virus, and now we need them to lead the battle between the variant and the vaccine,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The state is also giving the green light to booster shots for New Yorkers with compromised immune systems.
The mandate for healthcare workers was made through Section 16 of the Public Health Law, which allows the state Department of Health to issue emergency regulations.
Limited exemptions will be made for medical or religious reasons.
To date, 75% of the state’s hospital workers and 74% of adult care facility workers have been vaccinated. Only 68% of nursing home workers have rolled up their sleeves, according to state data.
The move earned the praise of hospital groups.
“The hospital community’s brave, dedicated workers have achieved impressive vaccination results, but it remains less than 100%.” said close Cuomo ally Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association. “New York’s mandate will help ensure that hospitals and other health care providers can deliver the best care for patients while keeping their workers and communities safe.”
New York’s seven-day average positivity rate was 3.09% on Monday with 1,722 people currently hospitalized with the virus. Another 11 New Yorkers died of COVID on Sunday, according to the governor’s office.
The vaccine mandate comes after Cuomo ordered all MTA and Port Authority employees working in New York to either get immunized or be tested for COVID once a week. A similar rule was put in place for state employees and patient-facing employees in state-run hospitals.
Cuomo has said in the past that he couldn’t outright require immunizations without full federal approval.
However, on Monday, he indicated more mandates could be coming.
“I have strongly urged private businesses to implement vaccinated-only admission policies, and school districts to mandate vaccinations for teachers,” he said. “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.”
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and her top aides were told of the policy change before the announcement, according to Cuomo’s office.
Hochul will take over as governor when Cuomo officially steps down next week. The disgraced governor is resigning following the release of a damning report from the state attorney general that found he sexually harassed multiple women.
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