A federal judge ruled Tuesday that New York health care workers may continue to seek religious exemptions from statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandates amid an ongoing lawsuit.
Judge David Hurd issued a temporary restraining order last month after a group of health care professionals sued, arguing the mandate violated their constitutional rights. Hurd’s temporary injunction on Tuesday will continue to block the state from enforcing the vaccine rule on those seeking religious exemptions, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
Hurd wrote that the health care workers lawsuit would likely succeed, as the mandate “conflicts with plaintiffs’ and other individuals’ federally protected right to seek religious accommodation from their individual employers,” the AP noted.
The state began requiring workers at hospitals and nursing homes to be vaccinated on Sept. 27 before expanding the requirement to include workers at assisted living facilities, hospice care and treatment centers.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) after Tuesday’s ruling vowed to keep fighting in the legal system to ensure the mandate.
“My responsibility as Governor is to protect the people of this state, and requiring health care workers to get vaccinated accomplishes that. I stand behind this mandate, and I will fight this decision in court to keep New Yorkers safe,” Hochul said in a statement.
New York is averaging more than 5,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, marking a 2 percent increase over the past 14 days. Average hospitalizations have fallen by 7 percent in the same timeframe.
Approximately 64 percent of the state is fully vaccinated.
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