CNN, PARKLAND HEALTH & HOSPITAL SYSTEMS, NORTHWESTERN MEDICINE
By Theresa Waldrop, CNN
Monday is the deadline for tens of thousands of New York workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Court orders, though, have thrown that deadline off for some.
The vaccines were mandated by New York City for public school employees, by the state for health care workers and by the state’s court system for its staff members after the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine received full approval from the US Food and Drug Administration in August.
Here’s what we know as the deadline falls.
Health care workers
The New York State Department of Health issued an order last month that all health care workers in the state would be required to be vaccinated by September 27.
As of last Wednesday, 84% of hospital workers, 81% of staff at all adult care facilities and 77% of all staff at nursing home facilities were fully vaccinated in the state, according to the governor’s office.
Hospitals reported widely varying vaccination rates going into the weekend, with Mount Sinai and NewYork-Presbyterian saying almost 100% already met the requirement.
The Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, though, said some 85% of its staff members were immunized, and it expects 10% of its staff — around 400 workers — would not be vaccinated by the deadline.
Employees in New York City’s 11 public hospitals who do not meet the deadline will be put on unpaid leave, but may return to their jobs if they do get vaccinated, according to NYC Health + Hospitals spokesperson Stephanie M. Guzmán said.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said Saturday she is prepared to declare a state of emergency to prevent staff shortages that may occur as a result of noncompliance with the mandate.
That would allow health care professionals licensed in other states or countries, recent graduates and retired professionals to practice in New York.
One hospital in upstate New York already has paused delivering babies because of the number of employees that had resigned because of the mandate.
Some employees may fall back on a federal judge’s temporary restraining order that prevents the state from enforcing the mandate if health care workers claim a religious exemption.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for Tuesday.
New York City mandate for public school employees
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last month announced all of the city’s education department staff must be vaccinated by September 27.
About 81% of all employees in the department and 87% of teachers had received at least one dose as of Thursday night, according to the NYC Department of Education.
That raised the question of whether the some 10,000 who hadn’t shown they have had at least one shot of vaccine would be missing from classrooms come Tuesday morning.
On Friday, though, a federal appeals court issued a temporary injunction against the mandate, meaning the requirement may not go into effect yet.
De Blasio on Monday said the previous regimen remains in effect until the legal question is resolved. That policy requires staffers who haven’t been vaccinated to be tested weekly for the virus.
Whether the reprieve for unvaccinated workers will continue remains to be seen. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has issued a notice putting the motion on the calendar for Wednesday, according to a spokesperson for the New York City Law Department.
The appeals court’s move came a day after a US District Court judge ruled against an injunction. Attorneys for the plaintiffs then appealed, and won a temporary injunction.
For its part, the DOE remains confident the mandate will be upheld “once all the facts have been presented, because that is the level of protection our students and staff deserve,” spokesperson Danielle Filson said.
The mayor expressed the same confidence at a news conference Monday.
“We are confident that the city and our education (system) is going to prevail,” de Blasio said. “We’ve won in court in similar matters previously and we expect to win again and quickly this week.”
Vaccine mandate for court employees
A vaccination mandate also goes into effect Monday for the state’s judges and and court workers, including court attorneys.
A New York judge on Friday postponed the requirement for the more than 5,000 court workers represented by the Civil Service Employees Association labor union, though.
The union had argued the statewide mandatory vaccine requirement constituted a new work rule that changed the terms and conditions of their employment, and the vaccine mandate was implemented without prior negotiation with the union, in violation of Civil Service Law.
The court system failed to identify any statute which specifically permits the imposition of a vaccine mandate without prior union bargaining, the judge found.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for October 1, according to court documents.
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CNN’s Aya Elamroussi, Artemis Moshtaghian, Mallory Simon, Kristina Sgueglia, Dakin Andone, Laura Ly and Elizabeth Joseph contributed to this report.