OMH & OASAS: Hochul Mask Mandate AND
December 13, 2021
For those still wondering about the Hochul mask mandate and applicability to BH agencies, I received the following information from OMH Medical Director Tom Smith:
OMH Licensed- and Operated-programs are considered health care settings and are required to have policies and procedures in place to ensure appropriate use of masks. In October, we issued regulations stipulating as much: https://dos.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2021/10/100621.pdf
556.5 Requirements for All Facilities.
(a) Effective immediately, all Programs shall have policies and procedures in place to ensure all staff, visitors and individuals receiving services regardless of vaccination status wear appropriate masks, consistent with any infection control guidance issued by this Office.
OMH also updated its infection control manual in September and it calls for mask wearing in all programs. You can find it here: https://omh.ny.gov/omhweb/guidance/covid-19-guidance-infection-control-public-mh-system-sites.pdf.
We do say that if you are alone in your office you don’t have to wear a mask.
And for OASAS providers, I received the following response to my questions about applicability:
OASAS already has a regulation that requires masks in ALL OASAS settings – see: https://oasas.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2021/09/mask-reg-808.pdf – so yes you are correct – this EO just reinforces the regulation
AND FINALLY, THIS JUST IN:
Top Court Lets N.Y. Mandate Vaccines for Health-Care Workers (1)
Dec. 13, 2021, 3:42 PM, BLOOMBERG LAW
A divided U.S. Supreme Court left in force New York’s requirement that health-care workers be vaccinated against Covid-19, refusing to order exemptions for 20 providers who say they object to the shot on religious grounds.
The rebuff, which came with no explanation, follows a similar rejection in a Maine case in October. Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented, with Gorsuch criticizing New York Governor Kathy Hochul for comments she made defending the lack of a religious exemption.
The orders come amid a cultural and political firestorm over Covid vaccine requirements. Republican-led states including Florida are moving to fine companies unless they let workers opt out, pushing back against President Joe Biden’s plan to require private employers to ensure workers are vaccinated or face federal occupational safety penalties.
A federal appeals court has put the Biden rules on hold, and that issue is likely to reach the Supreme Court soon as well.
New York is among a handful of states that require vaccinations for health-care workers without allowing a faith-based exemption. New York’s mandate, issued Aug. 26 by the Department of Health, requires health-care workers to be vaccinated if they are in close contact with patients, residents or other workers. The rule exempts people who have a medical reason for not getting vaccinated.
Two groups of doctors, nurses and other providers contend the mandate violates their constitutional rights. They say they are Christians opposed to the three available vaccines because they have links to cell lines derived from aborted fetuses. They told the court they either have already lost their jobs or will soon lose them.
‘Fear and Anger’
The Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc. mRNA vaccines were tested using a cell line that originated with an aborted fetus in the 1970s. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses a different cell line during production and manufacturing. None of the vaccines contain aborted fetal cells.
In an opinion for himself and Alito, Gorsuch faulted Hochul for saying in September that people with religious objections to vaccine mandates “aren’t listening to God and what God wants.”
“Sometimes dissenting religious beliefs can seem strange and bewildering,” Gorsuch wrote. “In times of crisis, this puzzlement can evolve into fear and anger. It seems Governor Hochul’s thinking has followed this trajectory, and I suspect she is far from alone.”
The court acted after weeks of deliberation.
New York told the justices its rule was warranted in light of the continuing threat posed by Delta variant of Covid-19. The state pointed to the risk that health-care workers could transmit the virus to vulnerable patients and residents or exacerbate staffing shortages by infecting colleagues.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor previously let New York City require school employees to get shots.
(Updates with excerpt from Gorsuch opinion in ninth p