Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at a news conference about booster shots in...

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at a news conference about booster shots in the Bronx on Monday. Credit: JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

No health care facilities have shut down due to the state mandate for all staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be fired, and around 90% of staff in nursing homes, hospitals and adult care facilities have received at least one dose, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Wednesday.

The state released figures showing the percentage of fully vaccinated staff in hospitals on Long Island and throughout the state. But Long Island hospitals say a higher percentage of staff members have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is what the mandate required be done by midnight Monday.

At Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, for instance, the state figures show 56% of workers are fully vaccinated. But Catholic Health, which runs the hospital, said Wednesday that 88% of Mercy's staff had received the vaccine.

Stony Brook University Hospital said Wednesday evening that 94.68% of its employees had been vaccinated with at least one shot. The state shows 89% are fully vaccinated.

"It is important to note that these numbers are fluid, we are still tabulating and expect further declines" in those who have not been vaccinated, the hospital said in a statement.

Overall, Long Island is below the statewide average of 87% of hospital staff being fully vaccinated, Hochul said in a statement. About 84% of hospital staff in Nassau County is fully vaccinated and 80% in Suffolk have gotten their complete set of shots, for an average of 82%, according to state figures.

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at a news conference about booster shots in...

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at a news conference about booster shots in the Bronx on Monday. Credit: JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

The average percentage of hospital staff statewide that has received at least one dose is 92%, Hochul said.

The percentage of nursing home staff in the state to have received at least one vaccine dose is 92%, while the percentage in adult care facilities staff is 89%, according to state data.

"The mandate did encourage people to get the vaccine," said Michael Balboni, executive director of the Greater New York Health Care Facilities Association, which represents 80 nursing homes in the metropolitan area. "There have been some impacts in terms of people leaving, but it has not impacted operations of the Long Island based nursing homes.

"It looks like in the initial stages of this, we have avoided this cliff," Balboni said. "But the crisis is not over."

Balboni said there's a nationwide shortage of nursing home workers, a problem exacerbated by the pandemic.

The vaccine mandate was announced in August by then-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Health care systems on Long Island already have fired, furloughed or suspended hundreds of workers who refused to get the shots.

Northwell Health, the state's largest health care system, said Wednesday it had to let go a "few hundred employees" who refused to get vaccinated. Northwell said its workforce, which numbers more than 77,000, is nearly 100% fully vaccinated.

"Northwell has taken a rapid, aggressive approach to move successfully toward full vaccination compliance while maintaining continuity of care and ensuring that our high standard of patient safety is not compromised in any way," the health system said in a statement.

Hochul said patients deserve to know they will not be infected by staff in medical facilities. Those opposed to the vaccine said the shots are an infringement on their personal freedom or religious beliefs, or are worried about side effects.

Most medical experts said the shots are safe and mass vaccination is the only way to end the pandemic.

"Our greatest responsibility is to protect our most vulnerable, and ensuring that the health care workers who care for our loved ones are vaccinated is critical to keeping New Yorkers safe," Hochul said in a statement.

The state is monitoring the situation, Hochul said, "and I stand ready to take additional action as needed."

The number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 hit 800 on Long Island in test results from Tuesday, with 307 in Nassau and 493 in Suffolk.

The seven-day average for positivity in testing for the virus edged up slightly on Long Island to 3.30%, from 3.27% the previous day. The statewide average was 2.67%.

Across the state, 47 people died on Tuesday of causes linked to the virus. The fatalities included five in Suffolk and one in Nassau.

Meantime, in New York City, 3,000 employees of the city's public health system are unvaccinated, out of a total of 43,000, according to Dr. Mitch Katz, the system head.

"We do have temporary staffing of about 500 nurses who are filling in for those nurses who have not yet gotten vaccinated or have chosen for retirement," said Katz, speaking at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daily news conference on Wednesday. "We haven't discharged anyone yet. And we do not intend to. We still have an open invitation to all of the people who are not yet vaccinated to please get vaccinated and join back to the health system with the best mission in the world."

De Blasio said those who were suspended without pay for failing to comply with the mandate would be welcomed back once vaccinated. He did not say how long their jobs would be held open, but said it would be a "reasonable period of time."

Speaking earlier on CNN, de Blasio said 92% of the city health care workers were vaccinated; it was about 85% last week. He said teachers and other school personnel were getting vaccinated more and more.

"In the end, it comes down to, you have to choose, are you gonna be able to keep that job, keep that paycheck, do the right thing, get vaccinated, the vast majority of people choose to get vaccinated," de Blasio said.

He said 7,000 school personnel were vaccinated between Friday and Saturday alone. In the previous 24 hours, 3,000 more got the shot.

"Now we are getting out of the COVID era in this city," the mayor said.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory, saying people who are pregnant, recently pregnant or trying to become pregnant in the future should get inoculated against COVID-19.

Some people have said the reason they declined the vaccination is a concern about fertility. The CDC counters by saying the vaccine is safe and will "prevent serious illness, deaths, and adverse pregnancy outcomes."

The agency said 31% of pregnant people have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Rates are highest among Asian people at more than 45% and lowest among Black people at a little over 15%.

The CDC said there had been more than 125,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in pregnant people, including more than 22,000 hospitalized and 161 deaths, as of Sept. 27.

With Matthew Chayes

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