ALBANY – New York will appeal a judge’s ruling that protects those with religious exemptions from the state COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced the news on Wednesday morning, just 24-hours after a federal judge in Utica ruled those with religious beliefs were exempt from the mandate.
The order first took effect on September 27 requiring doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers to get vaccinated or face termination.
Several dozens of protests took place statewide calling out the mandate, including at UPMC Chautauqua Hospital in Jamestown.
Hochul has said all along the mandate is not to take away people’s rights, but rather, to protect those vulnerable to the virus.
“That has been the whole objective behind this mandate, I’ve said it’s not something we’ve wanted to do, it’s something that this pandemic has forced us to do, and with the results you’re looking for,” says Hochul. “So my responsibility has always been to protect the people and the state. I will be standing behind this mandate, and I will be sure that we will be taking legal steps. We’ll be appealing this in the second circuit, and we’re working on those papers right now.”
Statewide statistics show that 85 percent of adults have had at least one dose, with nursing homes and hospitals reporting a 96 percent and 97 percent vaccination rate respectively.
Hochul did briefly address staffing concerns surrounding the mandate, saying that only three percent of the workforce in hospitals, nursing homes, and health care positions are impacted.