Even with a months-long easing of the coronavirus pandemic, vaccination mandates remain controversial in some quarters.
Rob Astorino, the Republican candidate for governor of New York, has accused the woman he wants to oust, Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul, of firing some 34,000 healthcare workers for failing to comply with vaccination mandates.
In one Tweeter posted Jan. 20, Astorino said of Hochul that “none of your warrants helped beat ‘this push.'” Among other criticisms, Astorino’s tweet accused Hochul of “laying off 34,000 HC workers”.
Closer examination shows that Astorino exaggerated this figure.
Under Hochul’s predecessor as governor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, New York state health care workers were placed under a vaccination mandate. The mandate required healthcare workers to be vaccinated by September 27, 2021.
On Oct. 5, Hochul — who had been elevated to governor following Cuomo’s resignation — extended the term to apply to mental health and disability service workers. Under the new mandatehealthcare workers at these facilities had until November 1 to at least get vaccinated.
The Astorino campaign said its tweet was based on New York State Health Department data showing that 33,982 health care workers were inactive due to the vaccine mandate. “We believe Rob’s claims are entirely accurate,” Astorio campaign spokesman Phil Oliva told us in an email.
However, the reading of the Astorino campaign figures was flawed.
The New York State Department of Health told PolitiFact New York that “approximately 3% of health care workers have been terminated, terminated, or have chosen to resign or retire.” Data released by Hochul’s office on October 13 showed that the number of healthcare workers who quit their jobs was 33,982, but the number of those specifically laid off was 10,555. That’s less than a third. of the total loss of health care workers.
In public comments on October 13, 2021, Hochul reiterated that the number of jobs lost was greater than those laid off. “This includes people who have been terminated, resignations, people deciding to retire and people on furlough who are waiting to see the outcome of litigation” against the mandate.
Also, it was up to employers, rather than the governor, to determine what happened to employees who did not comply, said Erin Silk, spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health. “Those plans could include termination, but it wasn’t mandatory,” Silk said.
Astorino said Hochul’s record included the “firing” of 34,000 health care workers.
About 34,000 New York state health care workers walked off the job after the vaccination mandate was enacted. However, less than a third of these could be described as being due to “dismissal”. About two-thirds of the jobs lost resulted from resignations, retirements or furloughs of employees waiting to see how tenure litigation unfolded.
We evaluate the statement as half true.