State officials in New York are considering the use of National Guard personnel to fill in for staffing shortages of the state's health care workers due to a mandate that requires workers to get vaccinated, which takes effect on Monday.
On Saturday, Gov. Kathy Hochul is expected to release a plan that would detail the steps she and other officials can take to supply more workers. The plan is set to be used in the event that large numbers of hospital and nursing home employees do not meet the state's deadline.
Sending Out the National Guard
"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 an address. The official's words could mean that they could declare a state of emergency to allow health care workers licensed outside of New York to practice their profession in the region.
Officials have other options at their disposal, including the deployment of medically trained National Guard personnel, partnering with the federal government to station Disaster Medical Assistance Teams to several local health and medical systems. Authorities could also put out requests for medical professionals, NPR reported.
Despite the mandate, many health care workers have still not gotten their coronavirus vaccinations with only days left before the deadline. The situation could lead to thousands of employees being forced to stop working starting next week.
Hochul said that she was monitoring the situation in the state as closely as she could to determine whether or not she needs to resort to a state of emergency. In the prepared release, she said that officials were working on providing a sufficient workforce to the health care department to support hospitals and other health care facilities.
New York City officials were temporarily blocked from enforcing a similar vaccine mandate for its teachers and school workers while the state made its preparations. While the vaccine mandate was scheduled to take effect on Monday, a federal appeals judge on Friday granted a temporary injunction and referred the case to a three-judge panel on an expedited basis, Military reported.
New York's Vaccine Mandate
In a statement, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucket said that the mandate was set in place to support both the closing of the vaccination gap and curb the spread of the Delta variant. However, many, including the Civil Service Employees Association, members of the New York State Correctional Officers, and Police Benevolent Association, have filed lawsuits against the mandate.
Civil Service Employees Association Communications Director Mark Kotzin released a statement where he said while the agency was supportive of keeping people safe, legislation should respect the legal bargaining rights of workers.
However, Hochul defended the mandate and said they would be replacing workers who refuse to get the vaccine by the deadline. She argued that unvaccinated personnel was the reasons why the United States and New York specifically have not been able to go back to a sense of normalcy amid the health crisis. The plans are in place as many healthcare workers have already been fully vaccinated, CBS News reported.