Deadline looms for home health-care vax

— Chart from the Home Care Association of New York State

The vast majority of home-care agencies surveyed — 140 out of 189 — had not required vaccination prior to the state mandate.

ALBANY COUNTY — On Wednesday, another Albany County resident, a person in their sixties, died of COVID-19, bringing the county’s death toll to 408, as the deadline loomed at midnight for workers in home-care agencies, hospices, and adult-care facilities to be vaccinated.

On Sept. 27, a state mandate went into effect, requiring health-care workers in hospitals and nursing homes across New York to be vaccinated. They are not allowed to test out unless they have a medical or religious exemption.

The order that currently sustains religious exemptions will be heard in federal court on Oct. 12. “I’m confident we’re going to win,” said Governor Kathy Hochul at a news conference earlier.

Hospital and nursing-home workers are being furloughed and let go if they are not vaccinated.

The Home Care Association of New York State released a report last month, sampling 189 home-care agencies of the 1,500 in the state on the impact of the mandate.

“In this survey sample alone, 894 home care nurses are projected to resign and, if they each carry an average caseload of 20 patients, this would directly impact and/or compromise the care of approximately 17,880 home care patients after October 7, 2021,” the report said.

In addition to the 894 registered nurses, the report also listed 901 administrative staff, 235 therapists, and 10,442 aids as resigning rather than getting vaccinated.

The report said the projected loss could be “catastrophic during an ongoing and worsening workforce crisis.”

Roughly 12 percent of the respondents were from the Capital Region. The Sept. 21 report found that 79 percent of nurses were vaccinated, 87 percent of therapists, 63 percent of aids, and 72 percent of administrative staff were vaccinated.

The vast majority of agencies — 140 out of 189 — had not required vaccination prior to the state mandate.

Hochul, who supports the mandates instituted by former Governor Andrew Cuomo, said at a press conference earlier that vaccination rates at nursing homes and hospitals have increased since she took office on Aug. 24, indicating the pending mandates were working.

Workers affected by the Oct. 7 vaccine requirement include those at facilities regulated by the state’s health department, including adult-care facilities, home health agencies, long-term home health-care programs, AIDS home-care programs, hospice care, and diagnostic and treatment centers.

On Sept. 27, Hochul had declared a statewide disaster emergency due to health-care staffing shortages.

“We are preparing to amass an army of people if necessary,” Hochul said at her press conference, of filling jobs vacated by unvaccinated health-care workers.

While the National Guard has not been deployed, she said that “thousands of student nurses” are available as are “people whose licenses had lapsed because they had retired.” The order allows for out-of-state and out-of-country health-care workers to practice in New York.


Help for landlords

In September, in an emergency session, the state legislature — on the heels of the Labor Day expiration of the federal moratorium on evictions —  passed a moratorium on residential evictions in New York State through Jan. 15, 2022. 

The law set aside $125 million to help landlords with tenants who decline to participate or have vacated the residence with arrears. 

That state funding is now available to landlords that couldn’t participate in the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program due to a federal requirement for tenants to participate in the application process, Hochul announced on Thursday.

The Landlord Rental Assistance Program provides up to 12 months of past-due rent to landlords.

Eligible landlords must own units leased at or below 150 percent of fair-market rent for their location and must have documented the rental arrears accumulated after March 1, 2020. Priority is given to those landlords owning a building with 20 or fewer units and who apply within the first 45 days of the program’s opening date on Oct. 7.   

Landlords that have applied to the state's rental assistance program can complete an application for state funding through their existing account in the online portal or create a new account. More information can be found at

So far, the program has approved more than 63,000 direct payments to landlords, totaling $804 million in assistance. New York State has now obligated or paid $1.8 billion in rental assistance, ranking the state first nationally in obligated funding and among the leaders in direct payments, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which tracks the state-by-state implementation of ERAP.

New York State’s ERAP provides approved tenants with eviction protection even if a landlord does not provide the information necessary to issue a payment or declines the awarded arrears.

Last month, Hochul sent a letter to the United States Treasury Department requesting additional funding for New York's Emergency Rental Assistance Program due to its shrinking balance and a continuing need for assistance throughout the state.


Newest numbers

Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy announced 95 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday morning.

“While our average percent positive rates have steadily declined over the last three weeks from a recent high of 4.8 percent, we’re still seeing far too many residents in the hospital with COVID right now, including two people who are younger than 25 years old,” he said in a statement.

As of Oct. 6, according to the state’s vaccine tracker, as a seven-day average, Albany County had an infection rate of 3.5 percent.

The Capital Region had an infection rate of 3.6 percent. Statewide, the rate is 2.4 percent.

New York City has the lowest rate of the state’s 10 regions, at 1.4 percent, while the North Country has the highest rate, at 5.3 percent.

Albany County, like New York State, continues to be labelled with a high rate of transmission by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, triggering the wearing of masks indoors in public regardless of vaccination status.

“We all need to be cautious with how the continued spread of the virus is impacting not only unvaccinated individuals and those with weakened immune systems, but our hospital system as well, especially as we continue to deal with a healthcare worker shortage,” McCoy went on. “Please do your part by getting the shot if you haven’t yet, and wear a mask indoors whenever possible.”

The county’s five-day average of new daily positive cases is now up to 82. There are now 525 active cases in the county, up from 520 yesterday

The number of Albany County residents under mandatory quarantine increased to 812 from 770

There were seven new hospitalizations since Wednesday, and there are 40 county residents currently hospitalized with the coronavirus — a net increase of five. Eleven of those patients remain in intensive-care units.

According to the state’s vaccine tracker, as of thursday night, 71.8 percent of Albany County’s residents have received at least one dose of vaccine while 84.9 percent of residents 18 or older have.

Statewide, 72.0 percent of New Yorkers have received at least one dose as have 84.9 percent of New Yorkers 18 and older.

At the same time, 64.3 percent of New Yorkers have been fully vaccinated as have 76.1 percent of New Yorkers 18 and older.

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