Hochul signs executive order for National Guard to fill hospital shortages due to vaccine hesitancy

Gov. Kathy Hochul.
REUTERS/Cindy Schultz/File Photo

Gov. Kathy Hochul said she’s signing an executive order Monday allowing her to deploy the National Guard and bring in healthcare workers from out-of-state in case of staff shortages at hospitals and other care facilities due to an impending vaccine mandate deadline.

“We’re taking all the steps preemptively in anticipation of what I call a preventable staffing shortage – still preventable, enough hours in a day,” Hochul said at a press conference in the Bronx Monday, Sept. 27. “I don’t have to do this if people will get vaccinated, there’s plenty of hours left in the day, but I also know I need to be prepared.”

The directive will give the governor emergency powers to hire National Guard officers with medical training, retired healthcare workers whose licenses may have lapsed, and staff from outside New York to offset those workers who lose their job due to refusing to get vaccinated.

“We’ve sent out the alarm, we have a pool of individuals who want to help,” Hochul said. “I would have much rather just been voluntary, but if I have to take steps to protect the people in terms of making sure I have replacements if necessary, I need to take those steps now and that executive order will do just that.”

Hochul previously warned on Saturday that she was considering using her executive powers to bring in outside help to supplement the state’s health centers if need be.

Workers at hospitals and other so-called long-term care facilities, including nursing homes, adult care, and other congregate care settings, have to get at least one dose of the shot by Monday, according to a policy announced by disgraced ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo in August.

Vaccination rates have been very high at downstate health facilities, at around 98-99%, Hochul said, but lower numbers remain upstate due to what she labelled a “different philosophy.”

“We have a different dynamic in some parts of upstate, there there are other reasons why people are not being vaccinated, it’s not the access, it’s a different philosophy is all I’ll say,” so Hochul. “And those are the areas we’ve been focusing our attention on, because those are the ones I don’t know that people are going to change their mind in the final hours.”

Some hospitals have run out of space due to rising COVID cases, causing facilities to postpone elective surgeries, Hochul said.

Her office will work with the hospitals and nursing homes to get people vaccinated in the remaining hours of the day, and Hochul urged hesitant workers to get their shot.

“There will be people vaccinated today, I have no doubt,” she said. “This is so unnecessary and I just want to appeal to the individuals to know that your co-workers want you to do this. Don’t make the burden heavier on them as well.”

This story appears courtesy of our sister publication amNewYork

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