ALBANY — New York has filed an appeal against a recent federal-court decision permitting healthcare workers in the state to apply for religious exemptions from its coronavirus-vaccine mandate.
“I applaud the Attorney General’s challenge of the lower court’s decision on the religious exemption to the vaccine requirement,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul in a statement Friday.
“I spoke with the Attorney General this morning, and we had a productive conversation about the importance of protecting this requirement. New York will continue to lead the nation in taking bold action on vaccines, which are our best weapon in defeating this virus.”
Hochul, James and outgoing state Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker filed the appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Tuesday, after Utica federal Judge David Hurd granted a preliminary injunction against the Empire State’s requirement when it came to healthcare workers seeking religious exemptions.
He wrote in his decision Monday that the plaintiffs — 17 anonymous healthcare workers, the majority of them Catholic — were successful in establishing that the Sept. 27 mandate “conflicts with longstanding federal protections for religious beliefs and that they and others will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of injunctive relief.”
The plaintiffs argued in a lawsuit filed last month that being required to get the shot or face termination violated their constitutional rights. They said they were refusing to be inoculated because all available coronavirus vaccines “employ fetal cell lines derived from procured abortion in testing, development or production.”
The state’s most recent data published Wednesday shows the mandate has resulted in 3,109 hospital workers out of 515,811 total statewide terminated because of their refusal to be vaccinated and another 1,335 who resigned or retired for the same reason.
The statewide vaccination rate in hospitals is 90 percent.
In nursing homes, 1,640 employees were fired for their refusal to get the shot, and another 119 resigned or retired out of the statewide total of 147,437 such workers.
Ninety-seven percent of nursing home workers statewide have received at least their first shot of the vaccine.
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