March 23, 2022, 5:17pm, By Carl Campanile

Republican members of Congress from New York are calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul to eliminate vaccine mandates for essential workers to prevent staff shortages and avoidunnecessary firingswith thecoronavirus pandemicin the rearview mirror.

The GOP congress members said they were concerned about staffing woes for utility workers as well as the health care sector.

“New York should not be enacting any more COVID-19 vaccine mandates and should take steps to roll back existing ones. The state also needs to find ways to help those who lost their jobs due to vaccine mandates get new employment or get their previous job back,”said upstate Rep.Claudia Tenney, who drafted a letter co-signed by Congress membersElise Stefanik, Lee Zeldin, thepresumptive GOP nominee for governor,Andrew Garbarino and Chris Jacobs as well as 16 state Assembly members.

“No person should lose employment, income, or access to services and facilities because of this personal medical decision.”

The lawmakers said they’re concerned about inadequate staffing for power utility companies as well as medical facilities and nursing homes.

TheU.S. Supreme Court blocked federal vaccine mandatesfor private sector workers, but the congress members expressed concern they could be revived at a later date.

“Power and services disruptions are not just an inconvenience but a life and death matter…it is important that New York state act immediately to protect all our essential workers and ensure there is no disruption to utilities and services in our communities,” the
letter said.

In August 2021, then-Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that allhealthcare workers would be required to receive a vaccineagainst COVID-19 or get terminated. Hochul continued andenforced the edictwhen she took over as governor.

Thousands of New York healthcare workers have been fired for failing to get vaccinated and Hochul called in the National Guard in December to help address staffing shortages in hospitals.

But one nursing home industry leader said the congress members are barking up the wrong tree.

The Biden administration also imposed its ownvaccine mandate for health care workerslast September that state government and health care industry must comply with.

“It’s a moot point,” said James Clyne, head of the Leading Age Coalition representing nursing homes. “They’re writing to the wrong person. The state has to comply with the federal mandate or lose funding reimbursement.”

Clyne also noted that Hochul recently rescinded the mandate thathealth care workers get COVID booster shotsafter industry officials complained of staffing problems.

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