In the Americas, New York Governor Kathy Hochul plans to employ U.S. National Guard and out-of-state medical personnel to fill hospital staff shortages – tens of thousands of workers could lose their jobs for failing to not having met Monday’s deadline for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.
The plan, outlined in a statement from Hochul on Saturday, would allow him to declare a state of emergency to increase the supply of healthcare workers to include licensed professionals from other states and countries, as well as nurses to retirement.
Hochul said the state is also considering using National Guard officers with medical training to maintain hospitals and other medical facilities in sufficient numbers. Some 16% of the state’s 450,000 hospital staff, or about 72,000 workers, have not been fully immunized, the governor’s office said.
The plan comes amid a larger battle between state and federal leaders pushing for vaccine warrants to help counter the highly infectious delta variant of the novel coronavirus and workers who are against the demands inoculation, some opposing it for religious reasons.
Hochul attended the Sunday service at a large church in New York City to ask Christians to help promote vaccines.
â€œI need you to be my apostles. I need you to come out and talk about it and say that we owe each other this,â€ Hochul told worshipers at the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, according to an official transcript.
“Jesus taught us to love each other, and how to show that love but care about each other enough to say, ‘Please get vaccinated because I love you and I want to that you live. ‘”
Healthcare workers who are fired for refusing to be vaccinated will not be eligible for unemployment insurance unless they are able to provide a valid request for medical accommodation approved by a doctor, said the Hochul office.
It was not immediately clear how the ongoing legal cases regarding religious exemptions would apply to the state’s plan to go ahead and fire unvaccinated healthcare workers.
An Albany federal judge has temporarily ordered New York state officials to allow religious exemptions for the state-imposed vaccination mandate for healthcare workers, which was put in place by the former Governor Andrew Cuomo and takes effect Monday.
A requirement for teachers and staff at New York City schools to get vaccinated was temporarily blocked by a U.S. appeals court just days before it went into effect. A hearing is set for Wednesday.
The highly transmissible delta variant has led to an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the United States which peaked in early September and has since declined, according to a Reuters tally. Deaths, a lagging indicator, continue to rise, with the country reporting an average of around 2,000 lives lost per day over the past week, mostly among the unvaccinated.
While cases are down about 25% nationwide from their fall peak, the increase in new infections in New York City has only recently leveled off, according to a Reuters tally.
What’s happening across Canada
- Rates of the virus in Ontario are lower than expected due to public health measures, experts say.
- NL reports 24 new infections as the number of Central Health cases rises.
What is happening in the world
As of Sunday, more than 231.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University Case Tracker, which collects data from around the world. The death toll worldwide was over 4.7 million.
In Asia, Singapore has reached new records for COVID-19 infections in the past week. The country will tighten restrictions this week to limit social gatherings to two people and make working from home a default, in a bid to contain a spike in infections and reduce strain on the healthcare system.
In Europe, Norwegian police reported dozens of unrest and violent clashes – including mass brawls in major cities across the Nordic country – after streets, bars, restaurants and nightclubs filled with people celebrating the end of COVID-19 restrictions.
In Africa, Gabon has received 100,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine donated by the United States as part of the COVAX initiative, according to the Africa region of the World Health Organization, adding that the injections will be used to vaccinate health workers.