Borrello supports bill to make unemployment possible for healthcare workers | News, sports, jobs


State Senator George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay.

State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, has signed up to co-sponsor a bill providing unemployment insurance for unemployed people who refuse to take a COVID-19 vaccine.

S.7403 was introduced Wednesday by Sen. Alexis Weik, R-Patchogue, two days after a state deadline for health care workers to either take a COVID-19 vaccine or leave their jobs. The state law states that those who voluntarily quit their job are not entitled to unemployment.

“New York State recently required that certain employees, including all health care workers, receive the coronavirus vaccine by a specified date or be terminated from their jobs.” Weik wrote in their reasoning for the law. “Unlike most other areas of the workforce, these employees do not have the option of having regular COVID tests instead of the coronavirus vaccine. These individuals have to choose between a personal health decision and their career. Thousands of New Yorkers – most of whom bravely stood on the forefront of the pandemic for months caring for the sick and the weak – are now unemployed under a mandate from the State of New York. “

Healthcare workers who quit their jobs because of the vaccination mandate could be a few hundred thousand, despite the state reporting rising vaccination rates for healthcare workers earlier this week.

As of Tuesday, the state’s hospital emergency data system found 97% of UPMC Chautauqua’s workers had been vaccinated; 90% at Brooks DC; and 84% in the Westfield Memorial.

Some of the reported 51 of the 573 employees who were not vaccinated at Brooks TLC last week were tied to the obstetrics department, while an obstetrician at UPMPC Chautauqua said during a rally on Tuesday that seven are no longer in the hospital’s maternity ward because of the government contract work.

Governor Kathy Hochul reported that as of Wednesday morning, 87% of hospital staff were fully vaccinated, with 93% in Chautauqua County and only 75% in Cattaraugus County. The percentage of caregivers who receive at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose is 92%. The percentage of adult care workers who receive at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine is 89%.

Borrello, with the support of several Senate Republicans, passed bill (S6788) earlier this year to end the state’s participation in the federal pandemic unemployment compensation program and mixed-income unemployment compensation programs because he was concerned that supplemental unemployment insurance would help to convince people to stay at home rather than return to work.

Making health care workers unemployed could be seen as encouraging workers not to be employed, but Borrello said workers may already be unemployed if they say they are afraid of contracting COVID-19.

“In my opinion this is blatant hypocrisy” Borrello said when contacted on Thursday. “On the one hand, there are people who are fired who cannot raise unemployment. Yet we still allow people to quit their jobs and become unemployed for pretty much any reason, even if there is a job for them. Even now that a vaccine is available, you can quit your job and collect unemployment and say that you are scared of contracting COVID.

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