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New York may tap National Guard to replace unvaccinated healthcare workers By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Mt. Sinai Nurse receives the first vaccines. Pfizer BioNTech Sinai Hospital, New York City during the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), in Manhattan, New York. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Fi


(Reuters) – New York Governor Kathy Hochul is considering employing the National Guard and out-of-state medical workers to fill hospital staffing shortages with tens of thousands of workers unlikely to meet a Monday deadline for mandated COVID-19 vaccination.

The plan, outlined in a statement from Hochul on Saturday, would allow her to declare a state of emergency to increase the supply of healthcare workers to include licensed professionals from other states and countries as well as retired nurses.

Hochul stated that the state is also considering using National Guard personnel with medical training in order to maintain adequate staffing at hospitals. The governor’s office stated that 16% of state’s 450,000 hospital workers have not received full vaccinations, which is roughly 70,000 people.

This plan is part of a wider battle between federal and state leaders who want vaccine mandates in order to counter the deadly Delta coronavirus. Workers opposed to mandatory vaccination, including some on religious grounds, are also being challenged by the federal and state governments.

Hochul stated that the “we are still fighting against COVID for our loved ones,” when he announced the plan. Hochul said, “I commend every health care worker who has taken the initiative to get vaccinated. I encourage all other health care workers to make that happen now to ensure they continue to provide care.”

Hochul’s office stated that healthcare workers fired because they refused to get vaccinated won’t be eligible to unemployment insurance, unless the worker can provide proof of a doctor-approved request for accommodation.

The state plans to fire healthcare workers despite religious exemptions being pending, but it was unclear how these cases would affect the plan.

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