Gov. Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul receives a flu shot from Dr. Daniel Cavallo on Wednesday in New York City. She urged New Yorkers to get their flu shots now, and they can also get their vaccinations for COVID-19 or their booster shots with the flu shot at the same time.

NEW YORK (TNS) — Gov. Kathy Hochul has no plans to drop her opposition to a religious exemption to New York’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for health workers.

“I have no doubt that people feel strongly about this,” Hochul said Wednesday during a press conference in New York City. “We have a public health objective, which is overriding.”

Hochul spoke after a judge on Tuesday ordered the state to continue allowing workers to obtain religious exemptions to the mandate. The state plans to appeal.

The mandate took effect for workers in hospitals and nursing homes Sept. 27 and for those at home care agencies and adult care facilities on Oct. 7. Workers had to have at least a first dose of a Covid vaccine by the deadlines or face losing their jobs.

Major religious leaders have repeatedly spoken in favor of vaccines, Hochul said again Wednesday. And she noted the mandates have worked.

The vaccination rate is up to 96% among hospital and adult care workers, 97% for nursing home staff and 94% for home care employees. The workforce in all those settings combined has dropped 3%, which includes firings and resignations over the mandate, people who retired and furloughed workers awaiting the outcome of the religious exemption court case.

Patients need to know the people caring for them won’t pass on the coronavirus, Hochul said.

“I will be standing behind this mandate,” she said. “We believe it worked. It has had a dramatic effect on our ability to protect people.”

{h4 class=”krtText”}Nursing homes{/h4}

Hochul on Tuesday met with families of people who died in nursing homes during the pandemic. She set up the meeting after running into Assemblyman Ron Kim while crossing a street in New York City.

Kim was an outspoken critic of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s response to the pandemic in nursing homes. His uncle died in a nursing home of presumed Covid last year.

“I apologized for the pain those poor families had to endure,” Hochul said. “It was a very emotional meeting.”

Hochul said she discussed a potential memorial with the families and her staff talked with them about a compensation fund.

“People deserve to know that their government listens and actually cares and gives a damn about them,” she said. “They know we’re giving them a hearing. This is not a one-off. It wasn’t a photo op. I don’t need a press conference to do the right thing.”

{h4 class=”krtText”}Vaccines for kids{/h4}

Hochul asked pediatricians to start preparing to vaccinate younger children. She said she’s hopeful approval for kids’ shots will come soon.

She said again she’s open to considering a vaccine mandate for kids in schools if worsening Covid numbers make it necessary.

But that’s not imminent. Hochul said her preference is to trust parents to do the right thing and get their kids vaccinated.

© 2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Visit syracuse.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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