Republicans in the New York state Senate on Monday called for a re-evaluation of COVID-19 vaccination requirements for essential workers as federal health officials recommend relaxed guidelines more than two years into the pandemic.
In a letter released by Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, Republicans in the chamber called the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's relaxed COVID-19 guidelines a "long overdue" effort to return to normalcy since the start of the public health crisis.
But at the same time, the lawmakers pointed to the impact of COVID vaccination mandates on a range of essential workers as various sectors — including the health care field — have struggled to retain employees since 2020.
"We continue to face shortages in the fields that are critical to our residents’ well-being, including our law enforcement, firefighters, teachers and healthcare workers," the lawmakers wrote. "We are sure we can all agree that we must do everything we can to advocate for these essential workers."
Vaccination requirements for health care workers have been upheld under court challenges. And state health and elected officials have pointed to a range of factors for turnover among health care workers, including burnout from the pandemic in addition to the vaccine mandates.
The CDC this month issued guidance that reduced quarantine times for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and ended the isolation guidance for people who have been exposed to COVID regardless of vaccination status.
"We strongly urge your partnered advocacy in standing up for our displaced healthcare workers following the easing of CDC guidelines," the lawmakers wrote. "We will continue to advocate for reevaluation of this mandate here in New York as the Governor moves forward with an assessment of the State’s COVID-19 response and urge you to do the same at the federal level."