Hochul: state will appeal religious exemption ruling
NEW YORK (WWNY) - Gov. Kathy Hochul says the state will appeal a “disappointing decision” by a federal judge Tuesday that forces the state to allow religious exemptions to its vaccine mandate for health care workers.
Judge David Hurd in Utica ruled that New York cannot enforce any requirement that employers deny religious exemptions.
“I completely understand that people feel strongly about this,” Hochul said at a COVID-19 briefing in New York City Wednesday morning, “but sometimes you have to do a calculation of what is important.”
She says people’s deeply held beliefs are important, “but we also have a public health objective which is overriding and that’s the position we’re taking in court.”
And the mandate, she says, appears to be working.
Ninety-seven percent of workers in nursing homes and 96 percent in hospitals have had at least one dose. Both percentages were in the 70s when Hochul took office in August.
Vaccination rates among staff in adult care facilities went from 77 percent to 96 percent and from 87 percent to 94 percent in home health agencies.
“I think that the mandates have brought people to the right decision,” she said, noting that the numbers reflect active staff and not those who have been fired or suspended for not being vaccinated.
Hochul said the mandate also has the support of leaders of the state’s major religions, who she said are encouraging their congregations to get vaccinated.
“They support what we’re doing, and they’ll back us up,” she said.
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