New York state mulls calling in U.S. National Guard to replace unvaccinated health workers

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is considering employing the U.S. National Guard and out-of-state medical workers to fill hospital staffing shortages — with tens of thousands of workers possibly losing their jobs for not meeting a Monday deadline for mandated COVID-19 vaccination.

A U.S. National Guard soldier helps to sign up people for their COVID-19 vaccination appointment in New York City on Feb. 24. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is considering employing the U.S. National Guard and out-of-state medical workers to fill hospital staffing shortages — with tens of thousands of workers possibly losing their jobs for not meeting a Monday deadline for mandated vaccination.(Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

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In the Americas, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is considering employing the U.S. National Guard and out-of-state medical workers to fill hospital staffing shortages — with tens of thousands of workers possibly losing their jobs for not meeting 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 health-care workers to include licensed professionals from other states and countries, as well as retired nurses.

Hochul said the state was also looking at using National Guard officers with medical training to keep hospitals and other medical facilities adequately staffed. Some 16 per cent of the state's 450,000 hospital staff, or roughly 72,000 workers, have not been fully vaccinated, the governor's office said.

The plan comes amid a broader battle between state and federal government leaders pushing for vaccine mandates to help counter the highly infectious delta variant of the novel coronavirus and workers who are against inoculation requirements, some objecting on religious grounds.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at an event in New York City's Central Park on Saturday.(Evan Agostini/Invision/The Associated Press)

Hochul attended the Sunday service at a large church in New York City to ask Christians to help promote vaccines.

"I need you to be my apostles. I need you to go out and talk about it and say we owe this to each other," Hochul told congregants at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, according to an official transcript.

"Jesus taught us to love one another, and how do you show that love but to care about each other enough to say, 'Please get the vaccine because I love you and I want you to live.'"

Health-care workers who are fired for refusing to get vaccinated will not be eligible for unemployment insurance unless they are able to provide a valid doctor-approved request for medical accommodation, Hochul's office said.

It was not immediately clear how pending legal cases concerning religious exemptions would apply to the state's plan to move ahead and terminate unvaccinated health-care workers.

A federal judge in Albany temporarily ordered New York state officials to allow religious exemptions for the state-imposed vaccine mandate on health-care workers, which was put in place by former governor Andrew Cuomo and takes effect on Monday.

A requirement for New York City school teachers and staff to get vaccinated was temporarily blocked by a U.S. appeals court just days before it was to take effect. A hearing is set for Wednesday.

The highly transmissible delta variant has driven a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the United States that peaked in early September and has since fallen, according to a Reuters tally. Deaths, a lagging indicator, continue to rise, with the nation reporting an average of about 2,000 lives lost per day for the past week, mostly in the unvaccinated.

While cases are down nationally about 25 per cent from their autumn peak, rising new infections in New York have only recently levelled off, according to a Reuters tally.


What's happening across Canada

  • Ontario's virus rates lower than expected due to public health measures, experts say.

What's happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 231.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University's case tracking tool, which collects data from around the world. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.

People wearing face masks wait in a line to enter a comedy show in Singapore on Sunday.(Caroline Chia/Reuters)

In Asia, Singapore hit record new highs of COVID-19 infections over the past week. The country will tighten curbs this week to limit social gatherings to two people and make working from home a default, in a bid to contain a spike in infections and reduce pressure on the health-care system.

In Europe, police in Norway have reported dozens of disturbances and violent clashes — including mass brawls in the Nordic country's big cities — after streets, bars, restaurants and nightclubs were filled with people celebrating the end of COVID-19 restrictions.

In Africa, Gabon has received 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine donated by the U.S. through the COVAX initiative, according to the World Health Organization's Africa Region, adding the shots will be used to inoculate health workers.

With files from The Associated Press and CBC News

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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