Assemblywoman Marjorie Byrnes (R,C-Caledonia) is calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state Department of Health to offer an alternative to the executive order that requires all healthcare workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccination by Sept. 27 or be terminated. Byrnes believes there should be an option for healthcare workers to wear masks and get weekly testing, similar to the state’s plans for teachers and school personnel.
“Healthcare workers have been our heroes for more than 18 months. In the height of the pandemic, they were called upon to work, even when many of them tested positive, as long as they weren’t showing symptoms – and now their jobs are being threatened?” said Byrnes.
Byrnes is joining a coalition of local officials from throughout the Finger Lakes who also believe the executive order should be changed. Earlier this month, a letter was sent to the governor asking her to change the order because of fears that the Sept. 27 deadline could cause staffing shortages or even walkouts at hospitals and nursing homes in the region.
“Across much of the state, hospitals and nursing homes were struggling to fill nursing positions at all levels even prior to the pandemic.After working through the last year and half, these people are burned out. Especially now, they’re feeling defeated and choosing to leave the profession or seek employment in other states,” said Byrnes. “We need to give them a reason to stay. Encourage them by reinforcing that their work is appreciated. Threatening their jobs isn’t how we should be repaying the immense debt of gratitude we owe healthcare workers. They should be given an option just like workers in other fields.”