New York state healthcare workers will no longer have religious exemption from Covid-19 vaccine mandate, court rules

The three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit also referred the two cases to the lower courts for further prosecution.

The pending court cases stem from former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s order that all employees in hospitals and long-term care facilities must receive at least one dose of the vaccine by September 27.

CNN has reached out to the New York State Department of Health for comment and details on the number of exemptions already provided by the state.

An attorney for the plaintiffs in one of the cases has vowed to take the case to the United States Supreme Court on Friday.

“The New York mandate imposes an abominable choice on New York health care workers: give up their faith or lose their careers,” said attorney Cameron Atkinson, who represents three nurses. “They have placed their future in God’s hands, and we remain optimistic that the United States Supreme Court will overturn New York’s discriminatory mandate as violating the First Amendment.”

In the second case, 17 healthcare workers, including many anonymous doctors, residents and nurses, filed a lawsuit last month to oppose the New York State Department of Health’s vaccine mandate, which did not allow religious exemptions. A judge issued a temporary restraining order on September 14 regarding religious exemptions.

CNN has contacted an attorney representing these healthcare workers for a reaction.

Governor Kathy Hochul welcomed the court’s decision.

“On day one, I made a commitment as governor to fight this pandemic and take bold action to protect the health of all New Yorkers,” Hochul said in a statement. “I welcome the findings of the Second Circuit affirming our mandate as the country’s first vaccine, and I will continue to do everything in my power to keep New Yorkers safe.”

Religious exemptions granted to nearly 16,000 workers before ruling, official says

Nearly 16,000 New York state health workers obtained religious exemptions from their employers ahead of Friday’s court ruling, the state’s health department confirmed to CNN on Friday. evening.

This represents 15,844 employees of hospitals, nursing homes, adult homes, certified home health agencies (CHHA), licensed home care service agencies (LHCSA) and nursing homes. palliative care, said Jeffrey Hammond, deputy director of communications for the New York State Department of Health.

Hammond provided a breakdown of the data, including the number of employees and the percentages of employees affected in each healthcare group.

• Hospitals (as of October 26): 6,433 employees (1.3%)

• Certified Home Health Agencies (as of October 26): 505 employees (4%), of which 365 are direct care staff

• Licensed home care service agencies (as of October 26): 5,573 employees (2.1%), of which 5,070 are direct care staff

• Hospice (as of October 26): 94 employees (2%), including 70 direct caregivers

• Rest homes (as of October 29): 2,684 employees (1.8%), including 1,935 direct care employees

• Homes for adults (as of October 29): 555 (2%), of which 309 are direct care staff

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