Hochul orders National Guard to fill N.Y. hospital shortages caused by staffers not vaccinated against COVID

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Gov. Hochul took executive action Monday to allow medically trained National Guard troops to fill in for hospital workers who are refusing to get their COVID-19 shots despite the state’s vaccine mandate in health care settings.

The mandate requires doctors, nurses and other health care workers statewide to show proof of receiving at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine by midnight Monday in order to continue working.

Hochul said Monday morning she didn’t know how many health care employees in New York won’t be able to work once the mandate takes effect and that she signed an executive order out of precaution to be able to call in the National Guard to fill any staff shortages.

“We’re taking all the steps preemptively in anticipation of what I call a preventable staffing shortage,” Hochul said at a press conference in the Bronx. “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.”

In addition to National Guard troops, Hochul’s order allows the state to tap retired health care workers as well as hospital workers from out-of-state in the event of vaccine-related staffing shortages.

Even though coronavirus shots have been available for nearly a year, about 16% of New York’s 450,000 health care workers were not fully vaccinated as of this past weekend, according to Hochul’s office.

Vaccine hesitancy has remained persistent despite the highly contagious variant of COVID-19 driving a spike in infections, hospitalizations and deaths across the country.

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