ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The New York State Department of Health announced Wednesday that “it has begun the process of repealing the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for workers at regulated healthcare facilities.”
This after an attorney for the state revealed the news inside a courtroom in Rochester Wednesday morning.
Jonathan Hitsous, an attorney for New York State, told a panel of judges during an appeal court hearing Wednesday the repeal will be going through a process, but the Dept. of Health is no longer intending to enforce the mandate and is planning on sending guidance to state hospitals and healthcare facilities.
When Judge Stephen Lindley asked Hitsous if there is no vaccine requirement for healthcare workers, he said “As we speak right now, the Department is planning on announcing that, but I think your statement is accurate, Your Honor.”
The state had been appealing a lower court’s ruling earlier in the year that invalidated the mandate. The Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court temporarily blocked the ruling, which kept the vaccine in effect.
Hitsous called the appeal moot after declaring the state was going to remove the mandate itself. He asked the panel to vacate the lower court’s ruling, claiming that such a ruling would be instructive should another situation like this arise.
New York State Department of Health sent a revised statement, saying:
Due to the changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic and evolving vaccine recommendations, the New York State Department of Health has begun the process of repealing the COVID-19 vaccine requirement for workers at regulated health care facilities. Throughout the public health emergency, this vaccine requirement served as a critical public health tool, helping to protect both health care workers and the patients under their care. As the repeal of this regulation awaits consideration for approval by the Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC), the Department will not commence any new enforcement actions. However, it should be noted that facilities should continue to implement their own internal policies regarding COVID-19 vaccination.
Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, who was in Rochester for an event, had this say:
“I think finally we have gotten to a place through some very challenging times where a lot of tough decisions had to be made about how to keep folks safe – were made. And I think it is encouraging to know that now we’re in a position where we are never going to be out of the woods per say but it’s a sign that we are moving in that direction where that period of time is receding, which is a good thing.”
News 8 has reached out to the Monroe County Department of Health and local health systems and will update this story once more information is released.
The University of Rochester Medical Center providing a statement Thursday, saying they have “begun the process of revising COVID vaccine requirement for workers.”
“On Wednesday, the New York State Department of Health announced that it has begun the process of repealing the COVID vaccine requirement for workers at regulated health care facilities.
During the public health emergency, the vaccine requirement was an important part of the State’s public health response that helped protect our health care workers and patients. University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) researchers were involved in the development of the COVID vaccines, which have proven to be safe and extremely effective at preventing severe disease. URMC supports COVID vaccination, and we continue to encourage all employees, as well as the public, to get vaccinated and boosted when advised by their health care providers.
Since the Department of Health has directed facilities to develop their own policies, URMC has begun the process of revising COVID vaccine requirements and policies for employees. We will implement changes consistent with public health guidance while continuing to protect our patients and staff. Current vaccine requirements will remain in place until the development of the new policy, which we anticipate will be completed in the coming days.“
Stay with News 8 as we continue to update this developing story.