New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) on Saturday, Sept. 25, rolled out her plan to counter a potential medical staff crisis as the deadline for the vaccine mandate looms closer.
“We are still in a battle against COVID to protect our loved ones, and we need to fight with every tool at our disposal,” Hochul said in a statement from her office.
For the healthcare sector, Hochul readied an executive order to declare a state of emergency, which will allow her to fill up the workforce gap with licensed staff from areas outside of New York.
Medical members from the National Guard may be deployed, and foreign experts may have their visa applications accelerated.
The vaccine policies were announced last month, which demand all healthcare personnel be vaccinated with a first dose by Sept. 27 or next Monday.
The rules apply to all employees no matter where they come from or if they are contract workers.
Pat Kane, RN, Executive Director of New York State Nurses Association, thanks Hochul for her preparation.
“As nurses, we are committed to providing the best care for our patients and working with the Governor on these efforts,” Kane said.
“We need adequate staffing to protect our patients and our colleagues, and we want to do everything we can to avoid returning to crisis levels during the pandemic,” Kane added.
According to the statement from Hochul’s office, as of Sept. 22, the Big Apple already had 84% of its medical staff fully vaccinated. The following day, the state reported 81% of all adult care facility personnel and 77% of all nursing home staff were fully immunized.
This leaves roughly 20% of the vaccine holdouts likely to bid goodbye to their jobs as the Monday enforcement arrives. As state data shows, that figure represents tens of thousands of people.
The vaccine holdouts are concerned about vaccine side effects, have natural immunity, or believe the mandate infringes on their personal freedom. The mandate allows exemptions for medical and religious complications.
Despite the fear and even calls from unions to postpone the deadline, both Hochul and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were persistent about the schedule.
“What is looming for Monday is completely avoidable, and there’s no excuses,” Ms. Hochul said Thursday, as she urged people to accept the vaccine jabs, according to The New York Times.
De Blasio was confident his city was prepared for the policy.
“We’ve been planning all along. We have a lot of substitutes ready,” he said on Friday, per the Associated Press.
“A lot is going to happen between now and Monday but beyond that, we are ready, even to the tune of, if we need thousands, we have thousands,” he continued.