New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul said Wednesday that nearly 20 percent of the state’s healthcare workers at hospitals and nursing homes refuse to get the COVID vaccine. When New York’s mandate goes into effect next week, they will be replaced — potentially by foreigners.
"To all the healthcare providers, doctors and nurses in particular who are vaccinated, I say thank you. Because you are keeping true to your oath," said Hochul, as reported by the New York Post.
"To those who won’t, we’ll be replacing people. And I have a plan that’s going to be announced very shortly," she added. "We’ve identified a whole range of opportunities we have to help supplement them."
Hochul hoped all unvaccinated employees would get the jab by the following Monday, as after Monday, employers can fire unvaccinated workers without a "valid medical exemption" for getting the shots.
According to the state Health Department, 19 percent of New York’s hospital workers remained unvaccinated as of September 15. For nursing homes, the number rose to 18 percent as of Wednesday.
"We are sending out a call statewide. There are facilities, for example, in New York City, that 98 percent of their staff are vaccinated. They don’t have a worker shortage," said Hochul.
She said state officials were "working closely with these hospital systems to find out where we can get other individuals to come in and supplement places like nursing homes."
"We’re also reaching out to the Department of State to find out about visas for foreign workers, on a limited basis, to bring more nurses over here," said the governor.
Employees who claim a religious exemption cannot be terminated until at least October 12. A federal judge in the upstate town of Utica issued a temporary restraining order after 17 health care workers filed a religious-freedom suit over the mandate.
The primarily Catholic plaintiffs opposed the available vaccines because they all "employ aborted fetus cell lines in their testing, development, or production."
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops permitted Catholics "to receive a vaccine that uses abortion-derived cell lines if there are no other available vaccines comparable in safety and efficacy with no connection to abortion."
Pope Francis has also called getting vaccinated "an act of love."