New York Governor Kathy Hochul Tuesday indicated she does not intend to rehire unvaccinated healthcare workers because they might infect patients with the COVID-19 virus, despite a court order.
In October, a New York Supreme Court judge struck down New York City’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers which saw approximately 1,430 workers terminated in February 2022. According to the Richmond County Supreme Court ruling, all city healthcare employees are allowed back to work and entitled to back pay. Judge Ralph Porzio slammed the mandate as “arbitrary and capricious” and about “compliance,” not about “safety and public health”.
But when asked about rehiring unvaccinated healthcare workers to help diminish a critical shortage of healthcare workers, Hochul explained she had no intention of doing so.
“Our healthcare systems seem in desperate need of staff right now,” WHEC reporter Jennifer Lewke told Hochul. “We’ve had ambulances waiting five hours at our local emergency rooms to unload patients. The hospitals, the nursing homes say they’re waiting for [New York State Department of Health] guidance on whether they can hire any of those [unvaccinated] workers back. What’s the latest with that?”
Hochul answered that those who have not taken the COVID-19 shots might transmit the virus to others.
“It’s a problem, but I don’t think the answer is to have someone come in who is sick be exposed to someone who can give them the coronavirus, give them COVID-19. I don’t know that that’s the right answer, in fact I’m pretty sure it’s not,” replied the governor, smiling, before saying that those who are vaccinated “will not pass on the virus.”
“So we’re exploring our options. But I think everyone who goes into a healthcare facility or nursing home should have the assurance and the family members should know that we have taken all steps to protect the public health, and that includes making sure those who come in contact with them at their time of most vulnerability, when they are sick or elderly, will not pass on the virus. We lost 34 New Yorkers yesterday. We have 4,000 active cases. This is not going away as much as we wish it would.”
Lewke asked Hochul if the healthcare workers could be rehired with restrictions such as mask-wearing because “we’re at crisis level here in our hospitals, particularly our nursing homes.”
Again, Hochul implied that patients might catch the virus from unvaccinated healthcare workers but not vaccinated ones.
“I truly understand the challenge and the balance. And these are never easy decisions. But I cannot put people into harm’s way, because when you go into a healthcare facility, you expect that you’re not going to come out sicker than you went in. I think that’s something every New Yorker would expect.”