New York must allow religious exemptions to the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for medical workers, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
U.S. Northern District Justice David Hurd of Utica granted a preliminary injunction temporarily barring New York state and employers from enforcing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate against medical workers claiming a legitimate religious exemption. Last month, Hurd issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the mandate in relation to religious beliefs.
The mandate requires most medical workers statewide to get the first COVID-19 vaccine dose by Sept. 27, or lose their jobs. It prodded about 55,000 workers to get the shot, but left the fate of at least 35,600 other workers refusing shots uncertain.
Many of the medical workers who had claimed religious exemptions had been placed on suspensions pending the outcome of the court battle. These workers, potentially numbering in the thousands, could now return to jobs as some hospitals and nursing homes face staffing shortages.